Bengaluru : India on Monday successfully launched its maiden ‘swadeshi’ space shuttle — the size of a Sports Utility Vehicle – which will enable us to develop reusable spacecraft to put satellites into orbit.
The test-firing of the unmanned space shuttle was crucial for fulfilling ISRO’s mission objective of making space travel easier and cheaper.
The total flight duration of the 6.5-metre long ‘airplane’-like structure from launch to landing on sea lasted about 770 seconds, the ISRO said. The aerospace vehicle disintegrated on impact with water since it is not designed to float.
According to ISRO, this is “a very preliminary step” in the development of a reusable rocket, the final version of which is expected to be ready in 10 to 15 years. The RLV, once it is ready, will put satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter atmosphere. This will drastically slash the cost of satellite launches by as much as 10 times.
This is the first such endeavor after the NASA halted its space shuttle programme in 2011. By successfully testing its home-grown winged reusable launch vehicle, India has demonstrated its space technology prowess and joined an elite club of space-faring nations like the US, Russia and France.
The long-term objective of this mission is to reduce the launch cost by 80 percent of the present cost by using a reusable vehicle. Space agencies the world over spend on average $20,000 per kg to build and use medium-to-heavy weight rockets to launch satellites into the earth’s polar and geo-stationary orbits, about 36,000km above the planet earth.