ISRO postpones Demo Re-Usable Launch Vehicle Lift-off

Model of RLV(TD) fixed atop PSLV for re-entry capability.

Originally scheduled to be launched today, the prestigious Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) being developed by Thumba-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) was delayed to April 2016 due to technical snags, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

RLV(TD) is miniscule prototype of India’s space shuttle that can return to earth after lofting off satellites in their orbit. More than economies of scale, the venture will make ISRO achieve the technical prowess on par with few space players in the world to reuse a launch vehicle. currently, US-based Orion and SpaceX are making headway in the direction.

It could have been set for launch in February but owing to already planned launches next year, ISRO said the fifth to seventh satellites of Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) will be taken during the next three months period starting from the launch window opening on January 20 and closing by March 31.

“The missions will be launched from the first launch pad, which is also to be used for the RLV-TD,’’ said ISRO official. The RLV-TD project was announced in January 2012 and it is undergoing flight integration at the VSSC before being moved to Bengaluru for acoustic testing and later to Sriharikota for the launch in April 2016.

To be launched on ISRO’s work horse PSLV, the RLV(TD) will go up to a height of 70 km and descend to the earth with the help of a space plane which is expected to splash into the Bay of Bengal for retrieval. After several such test flights, ISRO is planning a space shuttle for re-use from 2025 onwards.

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