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ISRO’s RLV Programme: Towards Reusable Launch Vehicles

Isro's Rlv Programme Towards Reusable Launch Vehicles

As the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) gears up for the third and final landing test of its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) programme, significant strides are being made towards realizing this innovative technology.


The LEX-03 Mission:

Scheduled for the first half of June at the Aeronautical Test Range in Chitradurga, Karnataka, ISRO’s forthcoming landing experiment marks a crucial stage in the RLV programme’s development. Under the leadership of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, the Mission Readiness Review has given the green light for this pivotal test mission. The aim is to progressively increase the challenge, signifying the growing complexity of the tests.

Pushpak and the LEX Missions:

The RLV-LEX missions feature the use of an unmanned winged prototype named Pushpak, designed and developed by VSSC in Thumba. These missions involve releasing Pushpak from a certain height to test and enhance its landing capabilities under various conditions.

Advancements and Challenges:

In LEX-03, Pushpak, airlifted by a Chinook, will face an extra challenge of being released 500 metres away from the runway, a significant increase from previous tests. This mission aims to decrease the descent speed during landing to minimize impact force, utilizing real-time kinematics (RTK) for enhanced accuracy and addressing the challenge of landing in tailwind conditions.

Next Steps: RLV-TD Project:

Following the success of the LEX programme, ISRO’s RLV-TD project will advance further, introducing an unmanned Orbital Re-entry Vehicle (ORV) into a 400-km orbit. This larger vehicle will undergo experiments in space, focusing on testing protective systems against high temperatures during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and a foldable landing gear system.


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