ISRO successfully conducts landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle

Source: The post is based on the articleISRO successfully conducts landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehiclepublished in The Hindu on 3rd April 2023

What is the News?

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully carried out the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD).

What is a Reusable Launch Vehicle(RLV)?

Reusable launch vehicle (RLV) means a launch vehicle that is designed to return to Earth substantially intact and therefore may be launched more than one time.

An RLV may also contain stages that may be recovered by a launch operator for future use in the operation of a substantially similar launch vehicle.

Advantages: With the costs acting as a major deterrent to space exploration, a reusable launch vehicle is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space.

What is the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD)?

RLV-TD is part of the efforts of ISRO at developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low-cost access to space.

The RLV-TD will be used to develop technologies like hypersonic flight (HEX), autonomous landing (LEX), return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX).

In the future, this vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two-stage orbital (TSTO) launch vehicle.

How many RLV experiments have been carried out by India?

The first RLV experiment was done in 2016. ISRO officials described it as a “baby step” in the development of an RLV. 

The second RLV test conducted recently involved a Chinook Helicopter of the Indian Air Force lifting the RLV LEX to a height of 4.5 km and releasing the RLV, based on a command from the Mission Management Computer.

After midair release, the RLV carried out an autonomous landing “under the exact conditions of a Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing — high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path — as if the vehicle arrived from space.

What was the difference between the two tests?

According to ISRO, the first test with RLV-TD (HEX1) involved the vehicle landing on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal while the RLV-LEX experiment involved a precise landing on a runway.

What is the significance of this RLV Test?

This is the first time in the world that a launch vehicle has been carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by helicopter and released for carrying out an autonomous landing on a runway.

With the successful landing of RLV LEX, the dream of an Indian Reusable Launch Vehicle arrives one step closer to reality.

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