India will test a small aeroplane-shaped vehicle this year as part of its programme to develop a reusable space launch vehicle, a senior official of Indian Space Research Organisation said. “We will test a small aeroplane-shaped vehicle — reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator — weighing around 1.7 tonnes soon. The vehicle will travel up to 70 km and will return,” K. Sivan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, part of ISRO told IANS here.
Currently, the cost of placing 1kg of object in space is about Rs.3 lakh ($5,000) which scientists are hoping can be brought down to about Rs.30,000 ($500).
He also said that ISRO will be flying its heaviest rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) powered by its own cryogenic engine.
“The rocket’s carrying-capacity will be between 3.2-3.4 tonnes. It will carry the GSAT 19 communication satellite,” Sivan added.
Apart from these, ISRO has also lined up a series of other launches.
“Next month, the seventh navigation satellite-IRNSS-1G will be launched. This will be followed by the launch of India’s Cartosat-cartography satellite — and a couple of small satellites in May. The two launches will be done using the PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) rockets,” P. Kunhikrishnan, director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre told IANS.
“In August, communication satellite INSAT-3DR will be launched using GSLV (GSLV Mark II version),” Kunhikrishnan added.