India has successfully tested its first-ever indigenous space satellite launch vehicle – the Re-Usable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator or RLV-TD.
The 6.5 metre long and 1.75 ton reusable launch vehicle ( RLV-TD ) was launched at 7 am on May 23 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The mission was declared successful 20 minutes after lift-off.
The test launch is believed to be a baby step forward in India’s conquest to move ahead in the field of space technology. It will help the country in developing a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take 10-15 years.
The RLV-TD aims to ultimately put satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter atmosphere.
“Mission accomplished successfully,” ISRO said after the launch.
The space shuttle will fly to an altitude of 70 kilometres and then come back in a free-gliding flight that starts with an initial velocity five times that of sound. It will then land on a stretch of water in the Bay of Bengal some 500 kilometres from Sriharikota.
The vehicle costed the government Rs 95 crore and has been built at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram – India’s main rocket designing and fabrication laboratory – by a team of 600 scientists over five years.
The space agency is looking to test two more such prototypes before launching the final version (which will be six times bigger) in 2030.
Re-usable technology will help reduce the cost of launching objects into space by 10 times. At the moment, it costs about $ 20,000 to send a kilogram in space.
ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar said it is essentially an attempt by India to bring down the cost of making infrastructure for space.
The space agency has been focusing on developing the heavy lift Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and its high-end version, the GSLV-Mk III, to enable it to break into the lucrative market of launching large communication satellites weighing over 2000 kg.