THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ISRO officials called Monday’s Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mission such a complete success that it would hasten India’s RLV programme.
Earlier, the space agency had tentatively lined up three more RLV-TD missions to test ‘landing’ on land (Monday’s mission glided into the Bay of Bengal), return flight and scramjet propulsion. “We’ve got to do a re-think now (about the next step). A ditto repetition of this mission need not be undertaken again. It has been a complete success,” Dr K Sivan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), told ‘Express’.
“However, many more technologies have to be developed. They include landing gear for the vehicle to land on an airstrip and more advanced thermal protection systems,” he said. ISRO has already announced plans for an airstrip at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SDSC-SHAR).
Senior hands involved in the RLV-TD project also hinted that the space agency, buoyed by Monday’s triumph, is likely to launch work on the full-fledged RLV, while parallelly conducting the required experimental missions. “Everything went off perfectly. We have satellite images on the landing in the sea,” RLV-TD project director Shyam Mohan said.
ISRO’s plan is to have a full-fledged RLV - which can carry payloads to space and return to earth ready for the next flight - by 2020. The USP of an RLV is that launch costs can be slashed from the present US $25,000 per kg to as much as US $1000 per kg.