India’s Journey Towards a Reusable Space Shuttle

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been working diligently for years on the development of the country’s first reusable space shuttle, with an ambitious launch goal set within this decade.

The Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) serves as a scaled-down prototype designed to facilitate the development and testing of this groundbreaking technology. Boasting a complex structure made of unique alloys, composites, and insulating materials, the RLV-TD represents an amalgamation of cutting-edge technologies and test tools that will help shape the future of India’s space program.

Crucial Testing and Development

The RLV-TD’s primary objectives include assessing the quality of thermal insulation, evaluating autonomous flight capabilities, and analyzing thermodynamic characteristics during hypersonic flight conditions.

To achieve these objectives, ISRO conducted the first RLV-TD test in 2016 as part of the Hypersonic Experiment (HEX) mission. A second test took place on April 2nd of this year, focusing on landing the vehicle in self-guided mode as part of the Landing Experiment (LEX) mission.

During the LEX, a Chinook helicopter from the Indian Air Force transported the RLV-TD to an altitude of 4.6 km before releasing it. The vehicle then successfully landed at a speed of 350 km/h, simulating conditions as if it had reentered from space. This triumphant test demonstrated the RLV-TD’s ability to land autonomously, bringing ISRO one step closer to achieving its reusable space shuttle vision.

The Road Ahead

In the near future, ISRO will conduct the third and fourth tests to further refine and develop the RLV-TD’s capabilities. These tests will pave the way for the construction of a full-scale, operational space shuttle, showcasing India’s commitment to advancing its space program and solidifying its place among the leading nations in space exploration.

Source: ISRO

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