India to test flight reusable rocket soon

New Delhi: India will conduct a test flight of a reusable launch vehicle by the second quarter of this year to reduce the cost of satellite launches, union minister Jitendra Singh said on Wednesday.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, the minister of state for department of space said the rocket’s 1.5-tonne technology demonstrator would be lofted to a height of 70 km using solid booster to attain five times the speed of sound.

“The reusable launch vehicle’s technology demonstrator (RLV-TD) will descend by gliding and splashing down into the sea. The test flight will demonstrate the hypersonic aerodynamics characteristics, avionics system, thermal protection system, control system and mission management,” Singh told the lawmakers.

The state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken steps to develop the next generation launch vehicle GSLV MkIII for placing four-tonne class communication satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbit and bring down the cost of satellite launches.

“Developing reusable rockets is a challenge, as it involves many cutting-edge technologies. The magnitude of cost reduction depends on the development and realisation of fully reusable launch vehicle and its degree of reusability,” Singh added.

The space agency had conducted the maiden test flight of GSLV MkIII on December 18, 2014 with a crew module from its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km northeast of Chennai.

Five minutes after the launch, the heavy rocket ejected the 3.7-tonne crew module at a height of 126 km for its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere and descent in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar islands.