ISRO Hypersonic RLV Test Set

Artist's conception of Indian reusable vehicles (Credit: ISRO)
Artist’s conception of Indian reusable vehicles (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO is planning a flight test in its Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program (RLV-TD) in the April to June time frame.

“Technology Demonstrator winged body vehicle weighing 1.5T will be lofted to a height of 70 km using solid booster, thus attaining five times the speed of sound. Thereafter, it will descend by gliding and splashing down into the sea”, said an official statement.

This test flight would demonstrate the Hypersonic aerodynamics characteristics, Avionics system, Thermal protection system, Control system and Mission management.

“Development of Reusable Launch Vehicles is a technical challenge and it involves development of many cutting edge technologies. The magnitude of cost reduction depends on development and realization of fully reusable launch vehicle and its degree of reusability”, said the statement.

ISRO describes the program on its website as follows:

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program or RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle. A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.

These technologies will be developed in phases through a series of experimental flights. The first in the series of experimental flights is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX) followed by the landing experiment (LEX), return flight experiment (REX) and scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX). Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator Hypersonic Experiment (RLV-TD HEX1) wherein the hypersonic aero-thermo dynamic characterization of winged re-entry body along with autonomous mission management to land at a specified location and characterization of hot structures are planned to be demonstrated.