A winged body was carried to an altitude of 4.5 km by a chopper before being released to conduct an autonomous landing on a runway. This launch method was “a first in the world.”
The Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Autonomous Landing Mission (LEX) by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was carried out effectively on Sunday at the Aeronautical Test Range of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in Chitradurga, Karnataka.
The space agency stated in a tweet on Sunday morning, “India did it! On April 2, 2023, early in the morning, ISRO and @DRDO_India @IAF_MCC effectively completed the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX) at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka.
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Indian space agency ISRO successfully lands
The RLV, according to ISRO, launched at 7:10 am as an underslung cargo of an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter and climbed to a height of 4.5 km. According to a press statement from ISRO, “Once the predetermined pillbox parameters were attained, based on the command of the RLV’s Mission Management Computer, the RLV was released in mid-air at a down range of 4.6 km.”
A winged body was carried to a height of 4.5 km by helicopter before being released to conduct an autonomous landing on a runway. This launch method was “a first in the world.” According to the press release, “the autonomous landing was carried out under the exact conditions of Space Re-entry vehicle’s landing, (such as) high speed, unmanned, precise landing from the same return path – as if the vehicle arrived from space.”
The RLV is a spacecraft with a low lift-to-drag ratio that required a high glide angle approach and a 350 mph landing speed. The LEX used several indigenous technologies, according to ISRO. “ISRO created localized navigation systems based on instrumentation and sensor systems, pseudo lite systems, etc.… Other operational launch vehicles of ISRO become more cost-effective through the adaptation of modern technologies created for RLV LEX, according to the space organization.
In its HEX Mission in May 2016, ISRO first showed the re-entry of its winged vehicle RLV-TD. Because an exact runway landing was not part of the HEX mission, the vehicle had made a fictitious runway landing during that experiment over the Bay of Bengal. The final approach portion of the LEX mission was completed, and the re-entry flight path showed an autonomous, high-speed (350 kmph) landing, according to ISRO.
To guarantee that the RLV is successful in delivering a payload to low earth orbit and that ISRO can achieve its goal of reducing process costs by 80%, more experiments are planned. There are also plans for the Return Flight Experiment and other RLV-related experiments.