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Hat-trick for Pushpak: ISRO nails autonomous landing experiment of Reusable Launch Vehicle (WATCH)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on June 23 said it has achieved a third consecutive success in the Reusable Launch Vehicle Landing Experiment by demonstrating the autonomous landing capability of the launch vehicle under more challenging conditions. 

Hat trick for Pushpak: ISRO nails autonomous landing experiment of Reusable Launch Vehicle (WATCH) gcw
First Published Jun 23, 2024, 10:14 AM IST

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday successfully conducted the third and final Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Landing Experiment (LEX). RLV LEX-03 was the name of the mission, which took place at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

With more difficult release circumstances and strong wind, the RLV LEX-03 mission proved the RLV's capacity to land on its own. At a height of 4.5 kilometres, the winged vehicle, called Pushpak, was deployed from an Indian Air Force Chinook chopper.

Pushpak autonomously carried out cross-range correction manoeuvres, approached the runway, and accomplished a crisp horizontal landing at the runway centerline from a release location 4.5 kilometres from the runway.

This mission simulated the approach and landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space, reaffirming ISRO’s expertise in acquiring the most critical technologies required for the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).

The advanced guidance algorithm catering to longitudinal and lateral plane error corrections, which is essential for the future Orbital Re-entry Mission, has been validated, ISRO said in a statement.

The LEX-02 mission's winged body and flying systems were repurposed for the RLV-LEX-03 mission, showcasing ISRO's resilient design capacity to reuse flight components over several missions. The Indian Air Force, many ISRO centres, and other organisations worked together on this operation.

ISRO Chairman S Somanath commended the group for their continued success in handling missions of this magnitude. The Director of VSSC, Dr. S. Unnikrishnan Nair, stated that ISRO's trust in the vital technologies needed for upcoming orbital re-entry missions is increased by this continuous success.

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