India's first reusable space shuttle, RLV-TD launched from Sriharikota

The RLV-TD that can put satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter atmosphere, was carried up on a solid rocket motor (SRM).

Created On: May 23, 2016 10:19 ISTModified On: May 23, 2016 10:49 IST

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 23 May 2016 successfully launched its maiden indigenous winged Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

It was carried up on a solid rocket motor (SRM). The nine-ton SRM was designed to burn slowly to accommodate the vertical lifting of winged body.

After launch from the Sriharikota spaceport, it glided back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal. The vehicle re-entered the atmosphere after reaching a height of over 70 km.

The mission, known as the hypersonic flight experiment, lasted about 10 minutes.

About Reusable Launch Vehicle

• The Re-Usable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully reusable vehicle. That is, it can put satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter atmosphere.

• The 6.5 meter long RLV-TD has aeroplane like structure which weighs about 1.75 tons.

• The cost of this project is 95 crore rupees.

• It is very similar to the US space shuttle.

• The double delta-winged RLV-TD being experimented is a scale model which is almost 6 times smaller than the final version.

• Before moving on to the final version of the RLV will take off around 2030, ISRO has planned to test two more such prototypes.  

• It has been designed with an aim to bring down the cost of making infrastructure in space.

• It was built at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram by a team of 600 scientists over five years.

At present, there is no country that flies a winged spacecraft into space. The two countries that used such spacecrafts were USA and Russia. The US retired such shuttles in 2011, while Russia flew such plane only in 1989.

In fact, RLV will be competing against two private companies namely SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Blue Origin's New Shephard rocket, which have already partially tested re-usable space shuttles.

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