Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration

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Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully carried out the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme at the Aeronautical Test Range in Challakere, Karnataka.

Why in news?

  • An Indian Air Forces (IAF) Chinook helicopter was used to drop the RLV-TD from a 4.5 km altitude and ISRO executed the landing experiment of the RLV-TD as planned.
  • The release of this vehicle was autonomous as it performed approach and landing manoeuvres using Integrated Navigation, Guidance, and control system and completed an autonomous landing on the airstrip
  • It is the first in the world; a winged body has been carried to an altitude of 4.5 km.
  • It is the second in the series of experimental flights of the programme.

Key facts about Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration

  • This programme is planned as a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully reusable vehicle.
  • A Winged RLV-TD has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, and powered cruise flight.
  • These technologies will be developed in phases through a series of experimental flights.
  • RLV-TD is similar to that of an aircraft and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and aircraft.
  • Features of RLV-TD
    • It consists of a fuselage (body), a nose cap, double delta wings, and twin vertical tails.
    • It also features symmetrically placed active control surfaces called Elevons and Rudder.

What are the previous launches?

  • RLV-TD was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016, from Sriharikota validating the critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance and control, reusable thermal protection system, and re-entry mission management.
  • During this mission, the vehicle landed on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal.


Q1) What is a cruise missile?

A cruise missile either locates its target or has a preset target. It navigates using a guidance system such as inertial or beyond visual range satellite GPS guidance and comprises a payload and aircraft propulsion system.

Source: ISRO successfully conducts landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle