Reusable space launcher model to be tested soon

Two futuristic space technologies that will impact cost and human space travel are due to be tested shortly, according to A.S.Kiran Kumar, chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation.

A small, plane-like prototype of a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is planned be flown first in May or June. A crew escape or pad abort system will follow it later, he said delivering the Air Force's ninth annual L.M.Katre memorial lecture on Saturday.

“On Friday, we completed the acoustic test of a technology demonstrator of a reusable launch vehicle at the NAL's facility. This is our first winged body vehicle and will provide us with the capability to put objects into Space at significantly lower cost,” Mr. Kiran Kumar said.

The technology demonstrator is about a sixth of the size of an eventual RLV. It will travel up to 70-80 km in space and return.

Launch in May or June

“The spacecraft is on its way to Sriharikota and we are getting ready for its launch” sometime in May or June, Mr. Kiran Kumar said.

ISRO is also developing crew modules which have environments controlled for supporting two or three astronauts for a few months.

An RLV TD, according to information on ISRO site, can be used as a flying test bed for various future technologies including space agencies' dream hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, and air breathing propulsion.

Slated earlier for 2015, it can also test fire-proof technologies such ISRO’s silica tiles that protect the crew module from burning on re-entry.

The RLV TD will be useful for future human missions where astronauts or objects must be safely brought back to Earth.

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