India shuttles with idea of re-usable launch vehicle

India shuttles with idea of re-usable launch vehicle

Space designs

India shuttles with idea of re-usable launch vehicle

For,  30 years since the US championed re-usable vehicle technology through its “space shuttle,” India, one of the leading countries in space technology, is yet to test a proper technology demonstrator of re-usable vehicle.

Although India is making advances in this technology through Isro’s ground work,  the challenges faced, especially due to a lack of specific funding for the project, would mean that it will a long time for us to boast of such a technology.

And if Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan’s words are to be deciphered for deeper meaning, we might not have such a technology at all.
Answering a specific question on re-usable technology in Hassan recently, he said: 

“Our strength lies in expendable vehicles although we are working on a technology demonstrator of a re-usable vehicle. We have to see what our future direction is!”

He did not commit on the space agency’s stand on the issue. The re-useable technology, along with a “fool-proof” GSLV launch vehicle will prove critical for the country’s ambitious “human space flight” programme, which has  got a clearance with Rs 145-crore earmarked for it.

Such a project cannot be executed indigenously without this technology, as it is essential to have a vehicle that can bring the cosmonauts back, just like the US space shuttle did. Advances are being made in the design and development of a technology demonstrator of a re-usable launch vehicle at Isro’s  Vikram Sarabai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram.

But senior scientists at Isro explained to Deccan Herald: “There is a long way to go in terms of re-usable technology. We are found wanting for some critical technology needed to make such a mission successful, and also, we have not got a project cleared completely.”

Also, on the argument that such a technology, once mastered, could reduce considerably the costs involved in Isro’s other future projects, Radhakrishnan said: “In some sense it does. But look at Russia, they dropped this programme about 20 years ago but they continue to excel in space technology.”

Radhakrishnan was hinting at working with our strengths and waiting for what may shape up in the future in terms of requirement.