Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to undertake the maiden launch of its ‘space shuttle’, a fully made-in-India effort (Read here). A sleek winged body, almost the weight and the size of sports utility vehicle (SUV), is being given final touches at Sriharikota where it awaiting final countdown.
Here’s what we know:
- India’s space port at Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh will witness the launch of the indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD). After the launch, it will be glide back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal.
The RLV-TD is unlikely to be recovered from sea during this experiment as it is expected that the vehicle will disintegrate on impact with water since it is not designed to float.
The purpose of the experiment is to help the shuttle glide over a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, situated 500 km from the coast.
India’s frugal engineers believe the solution to reducing cost of launching satellites into orbit is to recycle the rocket or make it reusable.
Scientists at ISRO believe that they could reduce the cost by as much as 10 times if reusable technology succeeds, bringing it down to $2,000 per kg.
K. Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, says, “These are just the first baby steps towards the big Hanuman leap.”
The final version will take at least 10-15 years to get ready.
The special booster or the first stage is powered using a solid fuel and it will hoist the RLV-TD prototype to about 70 km into the atmosphere from where the descent will begin.
During the descent phase, small thrusters will help the vehicle navigate itself to the landing area.
The making of the Indian space shuttle or RLV-TD has taken five years and the government has invested Rs. 95 crore in the project. This flight will test the capability of the vehicle to survive a re-entry at speeds higher than that of sound.