New Delhi. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully tested its first-ever indigenous space shuttle- the Re-usable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator or RLV-TD today morning from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The mission was being declared a success 20 minutes after lift-off.
The must-know facts about the big success:
- The 6.5 metre long and 1.75 tonne reusable launch vehicle (RLV-TD) has been made at a cost of Rs 95 crore.
- Being built at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvanthapuram, India’s main rocket designing and fabrication company laboratory, it is the result of the hard work of 600 scientists for over five years.
- ISRO plans to test 2 or more such prototypes before launching the final version that would be six times larger at around 40 metres and will take off around 2030.
- This re-usable technology will help in reducing the launching cost of objects into space by 10 times probably. Presently it costs around $20,000 to send a kilogram in space.
- In a competition to master re-usable technology for space shuttles, the RLV will be pitted against the likes of SpaceX’s Falcon and Blue Origin’s New Shephard rocket- both the companies have already partially tested re-usable space shuttles.
- The spacecraft was launched atop a nine-ton solid rocket engine that has been designed to burn slowly to accommodate the vertical lifting of a winged body.
- After the launch, the space shuttle flew to a height of 70 kilometres and then engaged in a free-gliding flight that started with an initial velocity five times that of sound. It then landed on a stretch of water in the Bay of Bengal some 500 kilometres from Sriharikota.
- This was the first time that ISRO flew a winged body and brought it back to land on a make-shift runway. In further tests, an undercarriage will be placed to make it land, possibly at Sriharikota.
- The final RLV will be about 40 meters in length and will also be able carry Indian astronauts. On this first flight, the RLV-TD will not be recovered but the data collected will be used to improve the designs, paving the runway to the final model.
- No other country is currently operationally flying a winged spacecraft into space – the Americans retired their space shuttles in 2011 and the Russians flew theirs only once in 1989.