New images of unknown Indian space shuttle in full flight

launch of the RLV TD16 9

The Indian space shuttle is a future project of ISRO, the country's space agency. Before a model that can reach orbit and return repeatedly can be developed, a scale model is tested. This scaled-down test element has now entered the third of four planned phases and images have finally been shown.

Takeoff RLV TD LEX02
Image of the space shuttle docked to the Chinook helicopter shortly after liftoff. Source: ISRO/DRDO/Indian Air Force

RLV-TD the evidence raised for a revolution

When testing systems, it is normal to start with simpler tests on the mission parameters. Then slowly move on to more complex profiles and out of the nominal conditions of a flight. But it is noteworthy that in the indian space programwith a endemic problem of lack of evidence on Earth, this is not always the case.

In fact, the most normal thing would be to first perform some glide tests from a few hundred meters high like this one. But in reality the first test from Reusable Launcher Vehicule (RLV) was a launch to suborbital trajectory by rocket solid-fueled.

With this test the aircraft was subjected to a hypersonic flight regime which it adequately survived. Although the recovery was not planned and it disintegrated upon impact into the Indian Ocean. The launch took place on May 23, 2016, almost 8 years ago.

Takeoff RLV TD HEX01
2016 launch of the RLV TD space shuttle on the suborbital hypersonic flight mission. Source: ISRO

It was not until last year that testing of this Indian space shuttle technology demonstrator resumed with the first tests being the so-called taxiing tests. Connected to an airport trolley like the ones that move airplanes, it was rolled on taxiways. Later it also moved on its own with a turbofan engine on a runway. Both are tests similar to those performed by an airplane before it takes flight for the first time.

For at a later date there are still substantially more outlandish tests. The firstThe new, very interesting and very interesting aircraft, which will give this aircraft the designation of space shuttle, will be a launch of a prototype into orbit. The liftoff is planned to be carried out by a GSLV MK2 rocket. Its date is not yet scheduled, but it will not be soon according to experience.

And the last test of this series of scale models will be indo atmospheric powered flights. What is striking is not the test itself, but the engine used. While the U.S. shuttle used a Boeing 747 to elevate it, and the Soviet Buran used engines turbofanin the India will attach a scramjet. This type of reactor makes it possible to achieve hypersonic speed in aspirated air propellants.

Image of RLV TD in ground tests
This first model was employed in the hyper sonic glide test in 2016. Source: ISRO
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A risky test, outside normal parameters

The third test of the Indian space shuttle resulted in another success for the program. Although limited in range, placing the spacecraft on a trajectory outside of normal conditions put added stress on the landing.

It took off attached to a CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter. It rose to the launch position located 4.5 kilometers above the ground and 4 kilometers from the beginning of the runway.  

Landing RLV TD scaled

Relying on its aerodynamic systems, it was able to autonomously correct its position and orientation. The Indian space shuttle landed at the aeronautical test range in Challakere, Chitradurga region, in the south of the country. The name of the device was Pushpak, which had already been used for the first landing test carried out at the end of last year....

Martin Morala Andres