New Delhi: Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro, is likely to carry out a technology demonstration of its reusable space launch vehicle at Sriharikota on Monday, weather conditions permitting.
A reusable launch vehicle will be capable of taking satellites to space and then landing back on earth so that it can be used more than once, much like Nasa’s now mothballed space shuttles. Such a vehicle is expected to drastically reduce the cost of space missions in the future.
This would be one of the many tests and demonstrations towards developing the final space shuttle as part of Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).
A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator will be used to assess various technologies including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.
For the Monday test, Isro scientists have developed a scaled model of the vehicle capable of going up to an altitude of 70 km, which is not designed to land on a runway.
“We are not even looking at landing. This is more of an experiment to see whether we are able to achieve certain conditions on flight. We need a vehicle that can come from a speed of Mach 25 to Mach Zero, has material that can survive very high temperatures and also test our own mission management software,” said K. Sivan, director of Isro’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
According to the space agency’s last annual report, the agency has completed studies related to the rocket by carrying out various simulations. It also validated the onboard software and conducted a successful test of the solid booster motor (HS9) with Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control system.
“Developments have been taking place for a long time; all corrections need to be in place. We want to ensure that whatever money we are spending, it is fruitful and that we are doubly sure,” added Sivan.
This scaled model is nowhere near the real Two Stage to Orbit reusable vehicle the space agency is aiming to develop which is expected to bring the cost of launches to a tenth of what they are today.
“Many such experiments will be carried out in the future, such as for the parachute system which will be put together eventually. We are looking at frugal engineering, developing advanced systems efficiently,” Sivan explained.