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ISRO and RLV: REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLES



  Jun 14, 2024

ISRO and RLV: REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLES



The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Programme

The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) programme by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) represents a significant leap in space technology. The primary goal of the RLV programme is to develop reusable spacecraft to reduce the cost of access to space, enhance mission efficiency, and promote sustainable space exploration.

Benefits of RLVs

1. Cost Efficiency:
• Reusable launch vehicles significantly reduce the cost per launch by allowing multiple uses of the same vehicle, thereby lowering the need for building new rockets for each mission.

2. Environmental Sustainability:
• RLVs minimize space debris and reduce the environmental impact of launch activities by reusing the same vehicle multiple times.

3. Enhanced Mission Flexibility:
• With the ability to rapidly turnaround and reuse launch vehicles, space missions can be scheduled more frequently and with greater flexibility.

Progress in the RLV Programme

ISRO has made notable strides in the RLV programme, moving closer to operationalizing reusable launch technology through a series of landing experiments.

1. RLV-LEX03 Experiment:
• The third and final RLV landing experiment (RLV-LEX03) involves the unmanned winged prototype named Pushpak.
• Pushpak will be lifted to an altitude of 4.5 km and released 500 meters laterally from the runway by an IAF Chinook helicopter.
• The experiment aims to test autonomous landing capabilities, including crossrange, downrange, and altitude adjustments, to ensure safe landing.

2. Challenges and Innovations:
• The mission will focus on reducing the sink rate to minimize impact load during landing.
• It will also test real-time kinematics (RTK) packages and handle tailwind conditions, further enhancing the vehicle’s reliability and precision.

Future Plans

Following the RLV-LEX03, ISRO plans to develop an unmanned Orbital Re-entry Vehicle (ORV), which will be 1.6 times the size of Pushpak. This vehicle will orbit Earth at 400 km and undergo various in-orbit experiments. The ORV will feature a thermal protection system for safe re-entry and retractable landing gear.

Achievements to Date

ISRO has successfully completed two previous RLV landing experiments, LEX-01 and LEX-02, demonstrating significant progress in reusable space technology. These achievements lay a strong foundation for future advancements in space exploration and reusable launch systems.

The RLV programme signifies a transformative approach in space technology, promising cost-effective, sustainable, and efficient access to space, positioning India at the forefront of global space exploration initiatives.



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