ISRO successfully conducts RLV-TD landing experiment using IAF Chinook helicopter
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully carried out the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme. The experiment was conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range in Challakere, Chitradurga. The RLV-TD was dropped from a height of 4.5 km using an Indian Air Forces (IAF) Chinook helicopter and the landing was executed as planned.
RLV-TD’s Autonomous Landing
ISRO stated that the RLV took off at 7:10 a.m. and flew at a height of 4.5 km. Once the predetermined pillbox parameters were attained, the RLV was released mid-air at a down range of 4.6 km. The release was autonomous, and the RLV performed approach and landing maneuvers using Integrated Navigation, Guidance, and control system. It completed an autonomous landing on the airstrip at 7:40 am.
Configuration of RLV-TD
According to ISRO, the configuration of RLV-TD is similar to that of an aircraft and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and aircraft. The winged RLV-TD acts as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, and powered cruise flight. In the future, this vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two-stage orbital launch vehicle. RLV-TD consists of a fuselage (body), a nose cap, double delta wings, and twin vertical tails. It also features symmetrically placed active control surfaces called Elevons and Rudder.
RLV-TD’s Previous Successful Flight Test
RLV-TD was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016, from Sriharikota. The critical technologies validated during the test include autonomous navigation, guidance and control, reusable thermal protection system, and re-entry mission management. The vehicle landed on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal.
RLV-TD’s Low Cost Access to Space
Mastering the RLV technology is crucial in achieving low-cost access to space, and one of the key objectives of the RLV-TD programme. Sunday’s landing experiment is the second in the series of experimental flights of the programme, and the space agency called it a world first, as a winged body was carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by helicopter and released for carrying an autonomous landing on a runway.