RLV Technology Demonstration Programme
RLV-TD (Scaled Model)
|Function||Technology Demonstration Vehicle|
|Country of origin||India|
|Diameter||1 m |
|Mass||12 tonnes |
|Launch sites||Satish Dhawan Space Centre|
|First flight||April 2016 (<proposed)|
Reusable Launch Vehicle—Technology Demonstration Programme or RLV–TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that has been conceived by ISRO as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) re-usable launch vehicle, an intermediate step towards the creation of an SSTO Avatar spaceplane.
For this purpose, a winged reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured. The RLV-TD will act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies like hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.
In the 1990s India initiated plans to develop a small space shuttle named Hyperplane that was to be orbited by non-reusable launchers. Then plans changed to project Avatar as a single-stage system. The Indian Space Research Organisation indicates that this vehicle was planned for development after 2010.
In parallel, India has been working a manned spaceflights programme from 2014 to 2015 with non-reusable conventional Orbital Vehicle spacecraft launched by the non-reusable launcher GSLV.
- HEX (Hypersonic Flight Experiment)
- LEX (Landing Experiment)
- REX (Return Flight Experiment)
- SPEX (Scramjet Propulsion Experiment)
In March 2010, ISRO conducted the flight testing of its new sounding rocket: Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV-D01), weighing 3 tonnes at lift-off, a diameter of 0.56 m, nd a length of ~10 m. It carried a passive scramjet engine combustor module as a test-bed for demonstration of air-breathing propulsion technology.
In January 2012, ISRO announced that a scaled prototype, called Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), was approved to be built and tested. The aerodynamics characterization on the RLV-TD prototype was done by National Aerospace Laboratories in India. The RLV-TD is in the last stages of construction by a Hyderabad-based private company called CIM Technologies.
By May 2015, engineers at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station were installing thermal tiles on the outer surface of the RLV-TD, so it can withstand the intense heat during atmospheric reentry. This prototype weighs around 1.5 tonnes and would fly up to an altitude of 70 km. The RLV-TD will be mounted on top of a solid booster HS9 with 1 m diameter and launched beyond the atmosphere, after which the RLV-TD will separate and reenter the atmosphere while traveling through the hypersonic regime. The rocket is expendable while the RLV would glide back to Earth and fall in Bay of Bengal as there are no airstrips that are 5 km long at suitable location in India that could be used to land such aircraft. ISRO has made detailed reports to construct an airstrip greater than 4 km long in the Sriharikota island and it will be built in near future.
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- RLV-TD test flight animation
- Brief description of RLV-TD Programme
- Development update on HEX
- Image showing future RLV-TD flights