Isro readies its Swadeshi space shuttle

For a change, Indian space scientists will soon move from the east coast — Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range — to the mainland to track the flight and landing of swadeshi version of the space shuttle at the Aeronautical Test Range in the ‘Science City’ at Challakere in Chitradurga district.

The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), for the first time, will be tested on land — the 2.2 km runway at ATR to be precise — with its under carriage in position after a freefall from a helicopter flying at an altitude of three km. The onboard computer will help the RLV to glide for some distance before touching down like an aircraft, scientists at Isro told Deccan Chronicle.

While the RLV has been designed to test a wide spectrum of technologies considered critical for the human space flight programme (December 2021), it will also help Isro realise the concept of Two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO), the space agency’s novel attempt to reduce the cost of launch of satellites by a factor of ten.