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बेसिक इंग्लिश का दूसरा सत्र (कक्षा प्रारंभ : 22 अक्तूबर, शाम 3:30 से 5:30)
Q. ISRO test launches space shuttle RLV-TD: Discuss about ISRO’s first test launch of a working-scale model of a reusable launch vehicle (RLV), or space shuttle.
May 24, 2016 Related to : GS Paper-3

Ans :


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space agency of the Indian government established with the vision to harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.

A reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is a launch system which is capable of launching a payload into space more than once. This contrasts with expendable launch systems, where each launch vehicle is launched once and then discarded. No completely reusable orbital launch system is currently in use. The closest example was the partially reusable Space Shuttle.

ISRO’s test launch of RLV or space shuttle-

Recently ISRO has successfully launched its first test of a working-scale model of indigenously developed reusable launch vehicle RLV-TD, or space shuttle from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

Technical information about RLV-

  • The RLV The model is 6.5 metres long and weighs about 1,750 kg, which is approximately 1/6th the size and weight of the planned vehicle.

  • Its design is is that of a delta-winged aircraft, like the American space shuttles and it took five years to fabricate with cost of 95 crore.

  • It was boosted 65 km above sea level by rocket and released, flying at Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).

  • Upon re-entry to the atmosphere after a total flight time of 770 seconds, it withstood temperatures of 7,000 Celsius or more caused by air friction and “landed” at a designated spot in the Bay of Bengal.

  • The test vehicle will not be recovered as the RLV was not designed to float, but data it sent back will indicate if propulsion, navigational and guidance systems worked as designed, and if the heat shield held up.

Importance of RLV-

  • An RLV could drastically reduce cost of putting payloads into space. As of now, it costs about $20,000 per kg for ISRO and an RLV could cut that to about $2,000 a kg.

  • RLV’s will  launch spacecraft, including satellites, into space and re-enter the earth’s atmosphere withstanding extreme pressure and heat conditions and land in an intended spot.

  • Though many countries spent huge money on developing these space shuttles, but ISRO hopes to cut development costs, given 30 years of technological advances.

Other countries on RLV’s -

  • USA, Japan, France and the erstwhile Soviet Union have already tested RLV's. These countries spent huge amounts on developing shuttles.

  • The US retired its space shuttles in 2011 and Russia flew once long ago.

  • Even two private corporations ‘SpaceX’ and ‘Blue Origin’ are also developing space shuttles.


ISRO's RLV space shuttle launch is a big leap for technological development and with this India joined the race to develop a space vehicle that can fly numerous times into space. The working RLV’s will be about 40 metres long and it will need a five km-long landing runway, which is much bigger than the tested one. Hence at least two more test flights must be made with scale models. It may take some more time to make fully operational. The technology, when developed completely, it will take Indian space programmes to grater heights.

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