India successfully launches its own 'space shuttle' RLV-TD

Bengaluru: 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.

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