India Launches RLV Technology Demonstrator

RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0
RLV-TD lifts off (Credit: ISRO0

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — Today, May 23, 2016 ISRO successfully flight tested India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime.

In this experimental mission, the HS9 solid rocket booster carrying RLV-TD lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 07:00hr IST. After a successful flight of 91.1second, HS9 burn out occurred, following which both HS9 and RLV-TD mounted on its top coasted to a height of about 56 km. At that height, RLV-TD separated from HS9 booster and further ascended to a height of about 65km.

From that peak altitude of 65 km, RLV-TD began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). The vehicle’s Navigation, Guidance and Control system accurately steered the vehicle during this phase for safe descent. After successfully surviving a high temperatures of re-entry with the help of its Thermal Protection System (TPS), RLV-TD successfully glided down to the defined landing spot over Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450km from Sriharikota, thereby fulfilling its mission objectives. The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from ground stations at Sriharikota and a shipborne terminal. Total flight duration from launch to landing of this mission of the delta winged RLV-TD, lasted for about 770 seconds.

In this flight, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated.

ISRO acknowledge the support of Indian coast guard and National Institute of Ocean technology (NIOT) for the mid sea wind measurement and shipborne telemetry respectively in this mission.

  • ReSpaceAge

    That thing should be on top of a SpaceX falcon 9 booster

  • windbourne

    This will cause India to ultimately make their own first stage land and be reusable. The world needs MULTIPLE launch systems that compete on this, while at the same time, other launch systems will attack this issue in a new fashion.

    Other than India’s massive manipulation of their money, I am excited to see this.

  • Jeff2Space

    Kind of hard to validate the “reusable thermal protection system” when the vehicle “landed” destructively in the ocean. From what I’ve read, this particular test article was not designed to be recovered.

    Still, this is a small, but important, step towards reusable vehicle technologies.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Looks a bit like SN’s beastie but I’d suggest pretty much a dead end if they follow the STS route. They’re going to have to do a lot better in order to compete even in leo.

  • patb2009

    if you had on board heat sensors, you can measure heat rise.

  • Jeff2Space

    Which tells you nothing about how the material on the outside held up structurally. The first shuttle mission had all sorts of dings in the tiles, and many missing tiles, but you wouldn’t have known it from the sensor data.