A scaled down version of AVATAR undergoing aero-elastic test.
|Function||Unmanned reusable spaceplane technology demonstrator|
|Country of origin||India|
|Launch sites||Satish Dhawan Space Centre|
|First flight||2025 (proposed)|
AVATAR (Sanskrit: अवतार) (from "Aerobic Vehicle for Hypersonic Aerospace TrAnspoRtation") is a concept for a manned single-stage reusable spaceplane capable of horizontal takeoff and landing, by India's Defence Research and Development Organization along with Indian Space Research Organization and other research institutions. The mission concept is for low cost military and commercial satellite space launches, as well as for space tourism.
In January 2012, it was announced that a scaled prototype, called Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), has been approved to be build. The first scaled-down tests are planned for 2015, and the first manned AVATAR flight is proposed for 2025.
The idea is to develop a hyperplane vehicle that can take off from conventional airfields, collect air in the atmosphere on the way up, liquefy it, separate oxygen and store it on board for subsequent flight beyond the atmosphere. The AVATAR RLV was first announced in May 1998 at the Aero India 98 exhibition held at Bangalore.
AVATAR is projected to weigh 25 tons, of which 60% of that mass would be liquid hydrogen fuel. The oxygen required by the vehicle for combustion in outer space is collected from the atmosphere, thus reducing the need to carry oxygen during launch. The notional specification is for a payload weighing up to 1,000 kg to low earth orbit and to withstand up to 100 launches and re-entries.
If built, AVATAR would take off horizontally like a conventional airplane from a conventional airstrip using turbo-ramjet engines that burn hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen. Once at a cruising altitude, the vehicle would use scramjet propulsion to accelerate from Mach 4 to Mach 8. During this cruising phase, an on-board system would collect air from the atmosphere, from which liquid oxygen would be separated and stored. The liquid oxygen collected would then be used to burn the carried hydrogen in the final flight phase to attain orbit. The vehicle would be designed to permit at least one hundred launches and re-entries into the atmosphere.
AVATAR iss being developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organization. Air Commodore Raghavan Gopalaswami, who is heading the project, made a presentation on the space plane at the global conference on propulsion at Salt Lake City, USA on July 10, 2001. Gopalaswami said the idea for AVATAR originated from the work published by the RAND Corporation of the United States in 1987.
In January 2012, it was announced that an scaled prototype, called Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), had been approved to be built and tested. The aerodynamics characterization of the RLV-TD was done by National Aerospace Laboratories in India. The unmanned scaled-down prototype weighs about 3 tonnes at takeoff, would have a diameter of 0.56 m and a length of 10 m. The RLV-TD is being built by a Hyderabad-based private company called CIM Technologies. The first tests may begin in 2015. RLV-TD will be mounted on top of a rocket and launched beyond the atmosphere, after which the RLV-TD will separate and re-enter the atmosphere traveling through the hypersonic regime. ISRO presentations indicate that the manned AVATAR spaceplane may fly approximately in 2025.
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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