The Indian Space Research Organization is preparing to test a scaled-down version of the ‘Swadeshi Space Shuttle.’ It’s known as the ‘Reusable Launch Vehicle,’ or RLV, according to ISRO. If everything goes according to plan, it will be spotted soaring over Science City in Challakere, Karnataka, where the first landing experiment is scheduled.
“We are quietly working on reusable rocket technology, with a very low budget, low expense, and little investment,” says ISRO Chairman S Somanath. Previously, the United States and Russia had both flown full-fledged winged spacecraft. Russia/USSR only flew its ‘Buran’ vehicle once, in 1988, before the programme was cancelled.
The Space Shuttle was flown by the United States for 135 missions before being retired in 2011. Since then, only the United States, China, and India have pursued a re-usable rocket development programme. India’s full-fledged test of reusable launch vehicles, if all goes well, may not happen until the 2030s.
ISRO’s reusability is significantly more complicated than Space X’s rocket stage recovery experiments, which is why mastering it will take time. The new bird will weigh roughly four tonnes and will be lifted into the air by a helicopter before being released at a height of three kilometres and a distance of three kilometres from the runway.
“The vehicle must then navigate, glide, and successfully land unpiloted and autonomously at the Challakare military runway,” Somanath explains. The Reusable Launch Vehicle – Landing Experiment, or RLV – LEX, is the name of the experiment using the scaled-down version. This is essentially an airdrop test to better understand the aerodynamics of ISRO’s in-house developed airframe.