ISRO - Reusable Launch Vehicle

Triton

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An Indian space shuttle takes shape

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator to fly within a year

CHENNAI: An Indian version of the space shuttle will be test-flown from the spaceport at Sriharikota in a year’s time. The Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), as it is called, will be a combination rocket-aircraft: the aircraft with a winged body, which is the RLV, will sit vertically on the rocket.

The engineering model of the aircraft is ready at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram. The first stage of the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3, flown in the early 1980s, will form the booster rocket. Weighing nine tonnes, it is called S-9.

After it takes off like a rocket, the booster will release the unmanned aircraft, which will go into space. At the end of the mission, the aircraft will land in the sea.

K. Radhakrishnan, Director, VSSC, said in an interview: “The next year we expect the prototype of the RLV-TD to be ready for flight-testing. This will be a milestone for ISRO.” The RLV “will open a new dimension in the launch vehicle technology and transportation system of ISRO.”

According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, ground testing of the booster rocket was done at Sriharikota in December 2008.

S. Ramakrishnan, Director (Projects), VSSC, explained how the rocket-aircraft would look: “The aircraft will stand over the rocket, nose-tip up, and its tail will be interfaced with the rocket. In other words, the entire RLV will stand vertically on top of the booster.” The engineering model of the prototype RLV was ready at the VSSC. “It will undergo various structural and load tests,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said.

The booster rocket will take the RLV to a specific altitude, release the RLV and fall into the sea. On re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, the RLV will land in the sea, to be recovered.

“Re-entry, descent and recovery are the three issues which we are trying to understand,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said. But in the first trial-flight in 2010, the RLV will not be recovered from sea because it will not be cost-effective to do so. “But we will get the data on the re-entry, deceleration and return from the telemetry.”

There were several issues that the ISRO was trying to understand in the mission, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. These included the aerodynamics of the RLV, compared to the rocket, and the controllability of the vehicle. “The control system must be fast-acting. That is the basic challenge. The digital auto-pilot is important for the ascent phase and the descent phase.”

The third important challenge was the heat generated when the RLV re-entered the atmosphere. Dr. Radhakrishnan said: “You need to have hot structures [which can withstand the re-entry heat]… Today, we have a handle on the materials.”

The ISRO had a long way to go before it could build an operational RLV, he said. “This is the first TD towards that.”


An engineering model of the Indian space shuttle called “Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator” at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
 

tarunraju

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OMG. With virtually no experience in building commercial airliners let alone multirole fighters, how can the government even think of funding PSUs for a space shuttle programme?
 

sayareakd

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TR what makes you think that it will have humans, this programme is their for very long time and some of the rest have been done, like re entry. First test will happen this year or next year.
 

sanjay

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But that article on RLV is from 2009. What's the progress been in this area recently? Any updates?
 

roma

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Triton - thanks for the good news

both recent chairmen of ISRO Dr madhavan and dr Radhakrishnan have been doing great work !
 
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pmaitra

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Here's another slide which also gives a useful mission profile for TSTO:

I am sorry, this is a bit confusing. Is this showing two different ideas of reusable spacecraft? If so, the one on the left is more of a circus acrobatic than anything else.
 

sayareakd

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I am sorry, this is a bit confusing. Is this showing two different ideas of reusable spacecraft? If so, the one on the left is more of a circus acrobatic than anything else.
Pmaitra, these are two different things, look again it is Two stage vehicle, look at the model at the right


It has two parts one is regular space shuttle (second stage), which is shown in right side of this image

other one is motor which is first stage, since the ISRO wants its motor to be reuse when it is detach with the space shuttle type of vehicle, it lands on its legs, as they dont want to damage the motor.

so it is two stage reusable vehicle.
 

plugwater

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Why are you lot discussing about 2 year old thread ?

Nothing happened as promised so far!!

ISRO will join DRDO as failed organization if its next GSLV launch fails!! I really hope they succeed in next launch.
 

Koovie

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when is the next GSLV launch?? Hope that the ISRO will have more luck next time
 

pmaitra

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Pmaitra, these are two different things, look again it is Two stage vehicle, look at the model at the right


It has two parts one is regular space shuttle (second stage), which is shown in right side of this image

other one is motor which is first stage, since the ISRO wants its motor to be reuse when it is detach with the space shuttle type of vehicle, it lands on its legs, as they dont want to damage the motor.

so it is two stage reusable vehicle.
Interesting post. Thank you for the explanation.

I still have a few queries. Who exactly deploys the payload?

The picture on top indicates the aeroplane or shuttle like vehicle is the second stage that deploys the payload and is in turn lifted by booster rocket(s). The picture on the bottom indicates that the shuttle like vehicle lifts the second stage which in turn deploys the payload.

Obviously, at least to me, there are two ideas here:
  • Shuttle is Stage 1, Rocket is Stage 2
  • Rocket is Stage 1, Shuttle is Stage 2
 

sayareakd

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Interesting post. Thank you for the explanation.

I still have a few queries. Who exactly deploys the payload?

The picture on top indicates the aeroplane or shuttle like vehicle is the second stage that deploys the payload and is in turn lifted by booster rocket(s). The picture on the bottom indicates that the shuttle like vehicle lifts the second stage which in turn deploys the payload.

Obviously, at least to me, there are two ideas here:
  • Shuttle is Stage 1, Rocket is Stage 2
  • Rocket is Stage 1, Shuttle is Stage 2
it appears that some one has mess up that drawing, it is not ISRO, here is how it does this


 

pmaitra

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it appears that some one has mess up that drawing, it is not ISRO, here is how it does this


Yes Mr. Sayare, you are right. The Shuttle is the 2nd Stage and that makes complete sense.
 

roma

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Yes Mr. Sayare, you are right. The Shuttle is the 2nd Stage and that makes complete sense.
oh gosh you mean they didnt even get the block diagram right ? !!
 

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