THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The scaled-down model of the reusable launch vehicle (RLV) India is planning to build is expected to be shifted from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) here at Thumba to the Sriharikota spaceport by the end of March.
If things go as planned, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have the keenly awaited Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mission - a first step towards building a desi space shuttle - in May. VSSC, which is ISRO’s nodal agency for launch vehicles, is engaged in the final integration of the ‘space plane’ portion of the RLV-TD. The ‘space plane’ will sit atop a booster rocket used on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which will carry it to a height of 70 km. The prototype, one-sixth the size of the proposed RLV and weighing 1.5 tonnes, will glide back to earth and land in the Bay of Bengal.
This will be the first of a series of technology demonstrations ISRO will conduct before actually building a full-sized RLV. ‘’We hope to have the test some time in May. It will come after the next PSLV mission which will carry the seventh and final satellite in the IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) series,’’ VSSC director Dr K Sivan told this paper. On Thursday, ISRO successfully placed the sixth IRNSS satellite in orbit. Although the next IRNSS mission was originally planned for March 31, it will be delayed up to April.
The RLV-TD mission was originally planned for the middle of 2015, but the development of the ‘space plane’ prototype had been delayed, forcing ISRO to put off the mission.
- RLV-TD to be shifted to Sriharikota this month
- First step towards building India’s space shuttle
- Series of technology demonstrations planned
- VSSC engaged in final integration of the ‘space plane’ portion of RLV-TD