ISRO’s RLV-TD launched from Sriharikota today: 10 things to know about the space shuttle

By: | Updated: May 23, 2016 12:16 PM

ISRO's RLV-TD: India's first indigenous reusable space shuttle RLV-TD was successfully launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 7 am today.

India's first reusable launch vehicle (RLV-TD) launched from Sriharikota todayISRO’s RLV-TD: RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take 10-15 years.

ISRO’s RLV-TD: India’s first indigenous reusable space shuttle RLV-TD was successfully launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 7 am today. The purpose of the experiment is not to see it float but to glide and navigate from a velocity five times higher than the speed of sound onto a designated virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal some 500 km from the coast.

“Mission accomplished successfully,” an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesman said soon after RLV-TD HEX-01 was flight tested. 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. Here are 10 things to know about the reusable space shuttle:

1. RLV-TD is a scale model almost six times smaller than the final version. The 6.5-m-long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighs 1.75 tonnes and will be hoisted into the atmosphere on a special rocket booster.

2. RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket.

3. 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 reusable vehicle.

4. RLV-TD is a 6.5 meter-long vehicle, having a mass of 1.75 tonne and is expected to go up to around 70 km after which it is expected to descend at a particular point on the sea.

5. RLV-TD has a flush air-data system, slow burning propellant and composite movable fin.

6. The RLV-TD is a scaled-down model of the reusable launch vehicle.

7. RLV-TD, 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.

8. 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 as said by ISRO.

9. RLV-TD 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.

10. RLV-TD’s final version is expected to take in 10 to 15 years.

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