Isro’s ‘space shuttle’ prototype passes crucial test
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.