Sunday, May 31, 2015

India to Test Its Reusable Spacecraft

Artist's rendering of India's Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program. Image Credit: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans the first test of its homegrown fully Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). The RLV- TD (Technology Demonstrator) mission will take place in late July or early August, according to M.C. Dathan, the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). RLV, resembling a small winged aircraft will be launched up to an altitude of 70 km from atop a solid booster rocket and released. The spacecraft will re-enter the atmosphere and travel back to earth in a controlled descent, to be recovered from the sea.

"It will be a winged vehicle that will take off vertically like a rocket and glide back to land horizontally like a plane," said the VSSC Deputy Director S. Somanath.

The development of RLV is in the final stages. The spacecraft has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.

“The first stage burns on solid fuel. Atop it is the space plane which will return to earth after the flight,” said ISRO chief Kiran Kumar.

The first in the series of experimental flights is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX) followed by the landing experiment (LEX), return flight experiment (REX) and scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX).

A 4 km runway would be constructed for the RLV to make a horizontal landing in the subsequent test flights.

RLV would be powered by an air breathing scramjet under development. The first prototype of the scramjet with a 10 kg thrust was due to be tested in one month, followed by the development of a test facility for a more powerful engine.

ISRO hopes that RLV will cut satellite launch costs from $5,000 to $500 per 1 kg.

“Development of RLV is a technical challenge and it involves development of cutting edge technologies. The magnitude of cost reduction depends on development and realization of fully reusable launch vehicle and its degree of reusability,” said India’s Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh.

The test is a part of a larger plan to build a fully functional two stage to orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.

If successful, the program would reduce the cost of space missions, making India more competitive in the launcher market.

1 comment:

  1. Let this information reach every student, professor & researcher of physical sciences of every university & research institution.
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