ISRO Prepares for Final Space Shuttle Landing Experiment, Boosting Reusable Launch Vehicle Program

Published On Tue, 11 Jun 2024
kartik kumar
ISRO Advances Reusable Launch Vehicle Program : ISROs Pushpak prototype has achieved notable success in its previous two missions. In the upcoming LEX-03 mission, Pushpak will be lifted to an altitude of 4.5 kilometers and positioned 500 meters laterally from the runway before being released.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to make significant progress in its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program with the third and final landing experiment (RLV LEX). This mission aims to advance ISRO’s development of cost-effective and efficient space travel technologies. The Mission Readiness Review (MRR) held on Friday gave the green light for the mission, scheduled for the first half of June, pending favorable weather conditions. The test will be conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range in Chitradurga, Karnataka.
Scaling Up the Challenge : The RLV-LEX missions involve releasing an unmanned winged prototype, named Pushpak, from a specified altitude to land safely under various conditions. In the LEX-03 mission, Pushpak will be lifted to 4.5 kilometers and positioned 500 meters from the runway using an Indian Air Force Chinook helicopter before release, increasing from the 150 meters lateral distance used in the LEX-02 mission.
The goal of LEX-03 is for Pushpak to autonomously approach the runway, making crossrange, downrange, and altitude adjustments to ensure a safe landing. The mission will focus on reducing the sink rate to minimize landing impact and will include a real-time kinematics (RTK) package for enhanced navigational accuracy. Handling tailwind conditions will also be a critical challenge for this mission.
Future Plans and Developments : Upon successful completion of the RLV-LEX series, ISRO plans to move forward with the next stage under the RLV-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) program. This phase will involve an unmanned Orbital Re-entry Vehicle (ORV) that is 1.6 times the size of Pushpak. The ORV will be placed in a 400-kilometer orbit using a modified Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The ORV mission, expected within the next two years, will conduct various in-orbit experiments. The vehicle will feature a thermal protection system to ensure safe re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and retractable landing gear.
Previous Achievements : ISRO has already demonstrated success with the first two LEX missions, conducted on April 2, 2023 (LEX-01), and March 22, 2024 (LEX-02). These missions have laid the groundwork for the more advanced and challenging LEX-03 mission. As ISRO progresses with these pioneering experiments, the successful development of reusable launch vehicles promises to significantly lower the cost of space missions, making space more accessible and sustainable for future explorations and applications.
Disclaimer: This image is taken from ISRO.
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