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April 3, 2023

ISRO successfully completes the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration

Filed under: Astronomy / Space — Suramya @ 2:07 PM

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has been quite active in the past few years and has been making significant progress in its mandate to power the next generation of Indian Space capabilities. On Sunday ISRO successfully completed the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) which is a key part of ISRO’s goal to create a reusable low cost two-stage orbital launch vehicle.

“The RLV took off at 7:10 a.m. by a Chinook helicopter of the IAF as an underslung load and flew at a height of 4.5 km. Once the predetermined pillbox parameters were attained, based on the RLV’s Mission Management and Computer command, the RLV has released mid-air, at a down range of 4.6 km,” ISRO said.

The autonomous landing was carried out under the exact conditions of a Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing —high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path— as if the vehicle arrives from space. Landing parameters such as Ground relative velocity, the sink rate of Landing Gears, and precise body rates, as might be experienced by an orbital re-entry space vehicle in its return path, were achieved. The RLV LEX demanded several state-of-the-art technologies including accurate Navigation hardware and software, Pseudolite system, Ka-band Radar Altimeter, NavIC receiver, indigenous Landing Gear, Aerofoil honey-comb fins and brake parachute system.

In a first in the world, a winged body has been carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by a helicopter and released for carrying out an autonomous landing on a runway. RLV is essentially a space plane with a low lift to drag ratio requiring an approach at high glide angles that necessitated a landing at high velocities of 350 kmph. LEX utilized several indigenous systems. Localized Navigation systems based on pseudolite systems, instrumentation, and sensor systems, etc. were developed by ISRO. Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the landing site with a Ka-band Radar Altimeter provided accurate altitude information. Extensive wind tunnel tests and CFD simulations enabled aerodynamic characterization of RLV prior to the flight. Adaptation of contemporary technologies developed for RLV LEX turns other operational launch vehicles of ISRO more cost-effective.

Keep in mind that this was a Technology Demonstration test, or what we call Proof of Concept (PoC) in Software Development. Now that we have successfully shown that the technology works as expected, they can start scaling it up, add more functionality/redundancy etc to productionalize it and make it ready for the live test a couple of years down the line.

Looking forward to more such positive news from ISRO going forward.

Source: ISRO successfully conducts the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission

– Suramya

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