ISRO successfully flight tested India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime yesterday. The Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, the final version of which is expected to take 10-15 years. This is also the first ‘Made in India’ space shuttle.
In this experimental mission, the HS9 solid rocket booster carrying RLV-TD lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 07:00hr IST on 23rd May, 2016. After a successful flight of 91.1second, HS9 burn out occurred, following which both HS9 and RLV-TD mounted on its top coasted to a height of about 56 km. At that height, RLV-TD separated from HS9 booster and further ascended to a height of about 65km.
From that peak altitude of 65 km, RLV-TD began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). The vehicle’s Navigation, Guidance and Control system accurately steered the vehicle during this phase for safe descent. After successfully surviving a high temperatures of re-entry with the help of its Thermal Protection System (TPS), RLV-TD successfully glided down to the defined landing spot over Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450km from Sriharikota, thereby fulfilling its mission objectives.
The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from ground stations at Sriharikota and a shipborne terminal. Total flight duration from launch to landing of this mission of the delta winged RLV-TD, lasted for about 770seconds. In this flight, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated.
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Speaking on this, our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said “Launch of India’s first indigenous space shuttle RLV-TD is the result of the industrious efforts of our scientists. Congrats to them. The dynamism and dedication with which our scientists and ISRO have worked over the years is exceptional and very inspiring”.
Credits: Indian Space Research Organisation