NEW DELHI, May 23 (Xinhua) — India Monday successfully tested its home-grown winged reusable launch vehicle (RLV) at a space launching center in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, in a step to economize the cost for launching satellites into outer space.
The RLV lifted off at 07:00 a.m. for the first launch in the Sriharikota space center, which officials said showcased India’s space technology.
The aircraft-shaped 1.7-ton vehicle returned intact and landed on a virtual runway, plunging into the Bay of Bengal, about 500 km away from the east coast, after a 10-minute guided flight in the atmosphere at an altitude of about 70 km above the Earth.
The space agency’s telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) centre in Bengaluru recorded the data of the vehicle’s hypersonic speed, autonomous landing and powered cruise flight using air-breathing propulsion.
The seven-metre RLV prototype was used as a flying test bed to evaluate technologies the state-run space agency developed to reduce the cost of launching satellites into the Earth’s polar and geo-stationary orbits.
“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,” Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K. Sivan told local media.
Rockets and support systems for launching satellites and space exploration missions are made at the space agency’s VSSC at Thiruvananthapuram in southern Kerala in southern India.