Re-usable space launcher test next year

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had proposed developing technology for creating an indigenous re-usable launch vehicle, like the Space Shuttle, to make space launches more economical. Current launchers are not re-usable, making the launch business extremely expensive.

While the groundwork for the proposed project had begun sometime ago, the organisation has finally embarked upon the project recently.

Speaking to Deccan Herald ISRO spokesperson S Satish said: “Yes, the work has begun but it is in very initial stages.” He added that the first set of technology demonstration is expected to be carried out in the second half on 2011.

Series of missions

Sources said the target is to develop a fully re-usable Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) launch vehicle and as a first step, a series of technology demonstration missions have been conceived. However, whether India will be able to straight away develop a fully re-usable vehicle or not will be subject to time. Indications are that initially the organisation may go in for vehicles some of whose stages can be re-used.

A winged re-usable launch vehicle technology demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured for the purpose.

“RLV-TD will act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies like hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air breathing propulsion.  First in the series of demonstration trials is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX),” ISRO had said in its annual report for 2009-2010.

In ISRO’s pipeline is development of GSLV-MK III to launch four-tonne satellite into the geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Slated for launch in 2011-12, it will be a three-stage vehicle with a 110-tonne core liquid propellant stage (L-110) and a strap-on stage with two solid propellant motors, each with 200-tonne propellant (S-200).

The upper stage will be cryogenic with a propellant loading of 25 tonne (C-25). GSLV Mk-III will have a lift-off weight of about 629 tonne and will be 42.4 m tall.
The payload fairing will have a diameter of five metres and a payload volume of 100 cubic metre.

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