India successfully test-fires first ever mini-shuttle RLV-TD

New Delhi: On Monday, India successfully test fired first ever indigenous space shuttle RLV-TD from Sriharikota.

Confirming the same, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director Devi Prasad Karnik in his statement to a daily said, “We have successfully accomplished the RLV mission as a technology demonstrator. The lift-off was at 7.00 a.m. from the first launch pad here.”

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After 10 minutes of its flight at about 70 km from above the Earth, the mini-shuttle returned and plunged into the Bay of Bengal, at about 500 km away from the coast. Weighing around 1.7 tonne, the RLV-TD was test-fired from the space sport in Andhra Pradesh.

The successful accomplishment now sees India joining the club the nations including the US, Russia and Japan which have for the past years developed and used RLVs for their space missions.

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The mini-shuttle included nine tonnes of solid propellants (fuel) with the aircraft-shaped RLV was used as a flying test bed to evaluate technologies the space agency developed to reduce the cost of launching satellites into the Earth’s polar and geo-stationary orbits. This mission thus allows ISRO to collect data on hypersonic speed, autonomous landing and powered cruise flight using air-breathing propulsion.

Ahead of the launch, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K. Sivan said, “The long-term objective of this mission is to reduce the launch cost by 80 percent of the present cost by using a reusable vehicle.”

Around $20,000 per kg is used by the space centres to build medium to heavy rockets.

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