ISRO test-launches its first-ever ‘space shuttle’

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully test-launched the first ‘Made in India’ space shuttle — called the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV-TD) — early on Monday morning from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Here are 10 things to know about the RLV-TD:

1. This is the first time ISRO launched a winged flight vehicle, which after its launch, came back and landed on a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, some 500 kilometres from the coast. The RLV-TD is a scaled-down model of a reusable launch vehicle being developed by ISRO.

2. An artist’s impression of India’s Swadeshi Space Shuttle. The RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take in 10 to 15 years.

3.The RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, the final version of which is expected to take shape in 10 to 15 years.

4.The 6.5 metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighing 1.75 tons was sent into into the atmosphere on a special rocket booster.

5.The government has invested Rs 95 crores in the RLV-TD project.

6.If reusable rockets become a reality, the cost of access to space may come down by 10 times.

7.The test-launch is considered a significant step in India’s space endeavour. It’s especially important, because in 2011, the US’s NASA abandoned its resuable space shuttle project.

8.Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin have already successfully undertaken their own test launches. SpaceX tested its powerful Falcon 9 rocket in December while Blue Origin’s New Shepard successfully completed a third launch and vertical landing in April this year.

9.Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency are also developing a similar technology and are in testing stages.

10.ISRO made global headlines in 2013 after it successfully launched an unmanned mission to orbit Mars, after spending just $73 million, compared to NASA’s $671 million outlayed for its Maven Mars mission.

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Source:Times of India