Deccan Chronicle

Isro’s ‘space shuttle’ prototype passes crucial test

- DC CORRESPOND­ENT with agency inputs

The Indian Space Research Organisati­on (Isro) on Sunday successful­ly tested the landing of a ‘space shuttle,’ the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission, (RLV LEX).

The test was a major step the Isro’s plan to launch space shuttle-like projects. Reusable spacecraft make for less expensive space missions.

If the project is carried out, the RLV will be launched by a rocket and will return to earth by itself. The RLV does not have engines and will glide down to land on a runway.

“Isro successful­ly achieved the autonomous landing of a space vehicle,” Isro said after the space shuttle-like craft landed at a special runway built at the Aeronautic­al Test Range at Chitradurg­a in Karnataka.

Isro said that for the first time in the world, a winged body has been carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by a helicopter and released for carrying out an autonomous landing on a runway. Isro collaborat­ed with DRDO and IAF for the test.

The RLV is essentiall­y a space plane with a low liftto-drag ratio.

It therefore has to approach the runway at a high angle and land at 350 kmph.

The RLV used state-ofthe-art technologi­es like accurate navigation hardware and software, radar altimeter, NAVIC receiver, indigenous landing gear, honey-comb fins and brake parachute system.

Isro had demonstrat­ed the re-entry of its winged vehicle RLV-TD in May 2016. Launched to an altitude of 65 km, the hypersonic sub-orbital vehicle landed on a hypothetic­al runway over the Bay of Bengal.

This vehicle was 6.5 m in length, 1 m in diameter and had a mass of 1.75 tonnes.

Isro plans to hold more tests of the RLV.

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