THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mission, India’s first step towards building a space shuttle, will be delayed at least till the year end.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) originally planned to have the mission in October. But tests are still progressing on the prototype here at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). “Some more work is pending on the technology demonstrator. We have a few tests to complete and we will have the mission either towards December end or by the beginning of next year,” said VSSC director Dr K Sivan. VSSC is in charge of constructing the prototype.
Initial plans were to have the mission in mid-2015. But continuing works and an extremely hectic launch schedule had forced the ISRO to put off the mission. The space agency also plans to have a commercial Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission, possibly in November. The PSLV-CA 29 mission is scheduled to place a bouquet of Singapore satellites in the orbit.
RLV-TD, which will be unmanned, comprises a space plane-like part riding atop a booster rocket. It will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The RLV-TD weighs 1.5 tonnes and it will glide back to earth from a height of 70 kilometres. ISRO, which has twice successfully demonstrated the re-entry technology, plans to recover the RLV-TD from the Bay of Bengal.
The RLV-TD will be the first of a series of flight-tests before ISRO can design and build a real vehicle.