ISRO achieves third consecutive success in Pushpak safe landing

The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) was released from an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter at an altitude of 4.5 km.
ISRO achieves hat-trick in Pushpak safe landing.
ISRO achieves hat-trick in Pushpak safe landing.(Photo | ISRO)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved a third consecutive success in the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) or Pushpak Landing EXperiment (LEX) on June 23, 2024.

The third and final test in the series of LEX (03) was conducted at 07:10 IST at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka, said a statement issued by ISRO.

According to Wion, in a span of 15 months, the Indian space agency (ISRO) has completed all three autonomous landing tests of its spaceplane 'Pushpak.'

With the third and most complicated landing test accomplished at  7.10 am Sunday, June 23rd, ISRO will now have to work towards launching a larger version of this spaceplane to space on a modified rocket, testing the plane in earth orbit, and demonstrating its capability to re-enter the atmosphere, return to earth safely for a runway landing, the report said. 

The ISRO statement said that the winged vehicle, ‘Pushpak’, was released from an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter at an altitude of 4.5 km. From a release point 4.5 km away from the runway, Pushpak autonomously executed cross-range correction manoeuvres, approached the runway and performed a precise horizontal landing at the runway centreline.

Due to this vehicle’s low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration, the landing velocity exceeded 320 kmph, compared to 260 kmph for a commercial aircraft and 280 kmph for a typical fighter aircraft. After touchdown, the vehicle velocity was reduced to nearly 100 kmph using its brake parachute, after which the landing gear brakes were employed for deceleration and stop on the runway. During this ground roll phase, Pushpak utilises its rudder and nose wheel steering system to autonomously maintain a stable and precise ground roll along the runway.

This mission simulated the approach and landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space, reaffirming ISRO’s expertise in acquiring the most critical technologies required for the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).

ISRO achieves hat-trick in Pushpak safe landing.
ISRO’s ‘Pushpak’ makes flawless landing in Karnataka's Chitradurga

Through this mission, the advanced guidance algorithm catering to longitudinal and lateral plane error corrections, which is essential for the future Orbital Re-entry Mission has been validated, the statement added.

This mission simulates the approach & landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space, which will reaffirm ISRO’s expertise in acquiring the most critical technologies required for the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).

S Somanath, Chairman, ISRO/Secretary, Department of Space, congratulated the team for their efforts in maintaining the success streak in such complex missions. Dr. S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director of VSSC, emphasised that this consistent success boosts ISRO's confidence in the critical technologies essential for future orbital re-entry missions.

J Muthupandian is the Mission Director and B Karthik is the Vehicle Director for this successful mission.

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