Reusable Launch Vehicle: ‘New technologies proven’

May 24, 2016 03:38 am | Updated November 28, 2021 08:53 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Reusable Launch Vehicle being transported to the launch pad.

The Reusable Launch Vehicle being transported to the launch pad.

The successful Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mission on Monday was “the first step towards India achieving a low-cost access to space,” according to K. Sivan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.

“We have demonstrated a lot of new technologies in this mission. We have to develop a lot more new technologies” to make it a really reusable launch system and enable it to put satellites in orbit,” he said. “We will be concentrating on developing these new technologies from now,” Dr. Sivan said.

An air-breathing propulsion test is planned at Sriharikota in June/July 2016 with the RLV ultimately flying in a hypersonic regime of Mach 25.

‘Fantastic success’

The mission was “a fantastic success, which met all its objectives,” Dr. Sivan said. The winged space plane’s ability to fly at hypersonic speed was demonstrated. The mission management of its re-entry into the atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of Mach 4.9 was proven. The vehicle withstood the fiery re-entry, proving the re-usable thermal protection systems wrapped around it. Then it touched down in the predicted area in the Bay of Bengal, 425 km east of Sriharikota. “A space plane flying at hypersonic speed is a new venture for the ISRO. Till now, we were only doing rockets,” Dr. Sivan said.

N. Shyam Mohan, Project Director, RLV-TD, called it “a clean flight.” The separation of the RLV/space plane from the booster rocket at an altitude of 56 km was “smooth” and “all controls worked as specified.”

The hypersonic re-entry was perfect. Dr. Shyam Mohan said the mission’s complexity came from the fact that the space plane, which sat on top of the booster rocket, had to be separated from the rocket at a specified altitude.

“We are really excited about the mission’s success,” Dr. Shyam Mohan said. “We are now confident of developing a winged, reusable launch system.”

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