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deccanchronicle.com Apr 17, 2016

Reusable Launch Vehicle begins trip towards history

CYNTHIA CHANDRAN

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finally, the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) has started its journey by road from Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre on Friday to Bengaluru for acoustic tests. By May, it will be shifted to Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Some 150 engineers attached to VSSC and more than 600 other engineers have been working on Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV – TD) at the VSSC for the last eight years.

Finally, they bid goodbye to the much-awaited rocket, which is expected to reduce the launch costs and make space missions economically viable, on Friday. It would reach Bengaluru earlier by Sunday or latest by Monday.

“Like any other rocket, RLV is also on its road odyssey. After doing the necessary acoustic tests at Bengaluru, it would start its next road journey to SHAR by the end of next week,” said an official. RLV is not a conventional tubular rocket but a sub-orbital mission, the major advantage being that it reduces the launch cost making space missions economically viable.

It is a 6.5 meter-long vehicle having a mass of 1.75 ton, which will go up to around 70 km after which it is expected to descent at a particular point into the sea. The project cost has been `95 crore including facility buildup. Though scientists at VSSC claims that it’s a ‘baby step’ for them, once it is successfully set off, it is going to be a ‘giant leap.'

NASA had already launched a similar vehicle, and they used an orbit in a Boeing X- 34 air-launched small booster project. Recently Japan's space agency, as well as the Centre National D'études Spatiales (CNES) of France, had sent similar RLVs to the orbit.

The RLV-TD is a scaled prototype of the AVATAR (Aerobic Vehicle for Trans-atmospheric Hypersonic Aerospace Transportable Reusable Launch Vehicle) space shuttle in India, and it can return to earth after performing its mission.

 

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