India launches first ever indigenous space shuttle
India today successfully launched the first technology demonstrator of indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
"Mission accomplished successfully," an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesman told PTI soon after RLV-TD HEX-01 was flight tested with the take off at 7 am.
This is the first time ISRO has launched a winged flight vehicle, which glided back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, some 500 kilometres from the coast. Known as hypersonic flight experiment, it was about 10 minutes mission from liftoff to splashdown.
The RLV-TD is a scaled-down model of the reusable launch vehicle. RLV, being dubbed as India's own space shuttle, is the unanimous solution to achieve low cost, reliable and on-demand space access, according to ISRO scientists.
RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle, ISRO said.
It has been configured to act as a flying testbed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion, it said.
The 6.5 metre long 'aeroplane'-like structure weighing 1.75 tons was hoisted into the atmosphere on a special rocket booster.
The RLV-TD is described as "a very preliminary step" in the development of a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take in 10 to 15 years.