12 Things You Should Know About ISRO’s First Made In India Space Shuttle

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Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched India’s first ever indigenous version of a ‘space shuttle’, Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, at 7 AM.



Nearly 20 minutes after Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) was flight tested with its lift-off, ISRO announced, “mission accomplished”.


Here is what you need to know about the remarkable space shuttle:

1. The ‘areoplane’-like RLV-TD is 6.5 metre-long and weighs approximately 1.75 tonnes, which means it is as heavy as an average Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).

2. Its estimated cost is around Rs 95 crore.

3. The current RLV-TD is believed to be 6 times smaller than the proposed final version. Its end unit is expected to take 10-15 years.

4. It was built at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram by a team of 600 scientists. It took over five years to build the shuttle.

5. Known as hypersonic flight experiment, it was about 10 minutes mission from liftoff to splashdown.

6. After launch, the space shuttle flew to an altitude of 70 kilometres and then engaged in a free-gliding flight that started with an initial velocity five times that of sound, reports NDTV.

7. It landed on a stretch of water in the Bay of Bengal some 500 kilometres from Sriharikota. This was the first time that ISRO flew a winged body and brought it back to land on a make-shift runway.

8. The RLV-TD is unlikely to be recovered from sea during this experiment since it is not designed to float. But, the data collected will be used to improve the designs, paving the runway to the final model.

9. Indian scientists have used lightweight, heat resistant silica tiles on the underbelly of the spacecraft that helped it to endure temperatures as high as 5000-7000 degrees Celsius on its re-entry into the atmosphere.

10. India has created a niche for itself by launching low-cost missions into space. Scientists at ISRO believe that they can reduce the cost of launching space shuttles into space by as much as 10 times with the success of reusable technology.

11. The final RLV will be about 40 meters in length and will also be able carry Indian astronauts.

12. India is the fifth nation to launch its own space shuttle. No other country is currently operationally flying a winged spacecraft into space. USA’s NASA administered the single most successful space shuttle program that lasted from 1981-2011. Russia’s Buran made a single attempt but was cancelled later. Japan and France have attempted a few testing flights as well.

Now, that’s how you fly!