India’s space organization has been making some great strides in work. Last month ISRO launched its seventh and final satellite for the country’s own navigation system. This launch made India only the fifth nation to have its own navigational system. ISRO is claiming of having 20m accuracy with its navigation system. Already India’s Mars Mission Mangalyan was a success with ISRO, being successful in the first attempt for Mars mission.
Last week on Monday ISRO added another feather in its cap, the organization launched its first proto of reusable mini-shuttle into space. The prototype of Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) was launched from Sriharikota on May 23 (Monday morning 7:00 AM), ISRO announced mission accomplished after 20 minutes of lift-off. The RLV-TD reached maximum altitude of 65km; from where it began descend doing an atmospheric entry at Mach 5, five times faster than the speed of sound.
The current flight was for testing of navigation, guidance and control system of RLV-TD. During the current test flight all these systems steered the vehicle for descend. The vehicle glided down into predefined landing spot in Bay of Bengal around 450km from the launch site. The vehicle has got Thermal Protection System to help it survive during high temperature re-entry into atmosphere.
This project is ISRO’s step toward creating re-usable launch vehicles to reduce cost for space travel. RLV-TD is first time a winged vehicle by ISRO to be launched in space and brought back to land. This project once complete in around decade and will reduce the launch cost around 8-10 times of present. To send 1 kg of payload current cost is around 6-8 lakhs which is expected to come down. The present proto is developed at a cost of around INR 90 crore. Two more prototypes are also planned for test before the final version will be launched around 2030. The actual vehicle will be six times larger than the proto , this in future will become first stage of reusable two stage orbital launch vehicle from India.
This step by ISRO in getting into reusable space shuttle technology will put the organization is competition with other players like SpaceX and Blue Origin. SpaceX is the company started by Elon Musk of Tesla fame, the company is planning for reuse of rockets to bring down launch cost. SpaceX has already done testing for landing its flights in ocean on drone ship.
The race for space is getting heated up with both public and private organizations working hard to get their hands in this new area. Unmanned missions to Mars and Moon are already materializing and we may see man land on other planets in near future, with the dream and hope of taking the human race to other realms of this universe. These are baby steps for humankind but one which are necessary. Wish to see the future soon 🙂 .