ISRO to test landing of its Reusable Launch Vehicle

science Technology

The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), which is in its technology demonstration phase, will undergo its first landing demonstration, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The spacecraft is similar to NASA’s space shuttles, which served as the largest launch vehicle for the US space agency into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The Indian space agency is poised to carry out the technology’s first landing demonstration, moving India one step closer to reusable launch vehicles that might be employed in the near future to launch not only satellites but even astronauts into space. The space agency made a suggestion that the landing demonstration would take place in the next weeks.

In order to offer affordable access to space, Isro is attempting to create the necessary technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle or RLV. The new method would further solidify the Indian space agency’s position as a provider of affordable launch services in the multibillion-dollar satellite launch market.

The configuration of the RLV is similar to that of an airplane, according to Isro, and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and planes. The system is made up of a nose cap, two delta wings, two vertical tails, and symmetrically positioned active control surfaces known as Elevons and Rudder. 

The system is propelled to Mach 5 by a conventional solid booster (HS9) with a low burn rate (five times the speed of sound.) The primary goal of creating the reusable system is to compete successfully in the launch business, which is now dominated by SpaceX and its reusable Falcon-9 rockets. The Elon Musk-led business launched 61 times successfully in 2022 using its reusable technology, and it expects to launch 100 times successfully in 2023. This is the market that Isro is aiming for, and a reusable launch vehicle will help it succeed.

The system’s main goals are to test integrated flight management, autonomous navigation, guidance and control methods, and thermal protection systems as well as to establish a hypersonic aerothermodynamic characterization of the wing body.

In 2016, Isro tested the RLV-RD in flight from Sriharikota, successfully validating key technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance, and control, reusable thermal protection system, and re-entry mission management. The reusable launch vehicle will be hoisted by the Indian Air Force’s helicopter to a specific altitude before being dropped as part of the landing demonstration. The system will then take control, and Isro anticipates that the fly-by-wire system will guarantee a secure and intact landing similar to an aircraft on a runway.

ISRO initially intended for a Mi-17 helicopter to perform the lifting. That strategy is probably going to change now that the IAF has access to chin hooks. Once the lifting trial with the IAF’s heavy-lift helicopter has been completed, the date for the landing demonstration will be made public.