• Recently, ISRO successfully carried out the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme.
  • Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomus Landing Mission (RLV LEX) test was the second of five tests that are a part of ISRO’s efforts to develop RLVs or space planes/shuttles under the RLV-TD Programme.
  • RLV is essentially a space plane with a low lift to drag ratio and can travel to low earth orbits to deliver payloads and return to earth for use again.
  • This vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two-stage orbital (TSTO) launch vehicle.
  • RLV-TD Programme aims at developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low-cost access to space.
  • It includes technologies like hypersonic flight (HEX), autonomous landing (LEX), return flight experiment (REX), powered cruise flight, and Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX).
    • NASA is using RLV for long time and private space agencies such as Space X demonstrating partially reusable launch systems
  • RLV is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space.
  • However, issues like- Selection of materials like special alloys, composites, and insulation materials, crafting of its complex parts, highly skilled manpower requirement, still remain

 Global precedents

  1. NASA– Reusable space vehicles have been in existence for a long time with NASA space shuttles carrying out dozens of human space flight missions.
  2. Space X: The use case for reusable space launch vehicles has revived with the private space launch services provider Space X demonstrating partially reusable launch systems with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets since 2017. SpaceX is also working on a fully reusable launch vehicle system called Starship.
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