India Anticipates May Launch for RLV Demonstrator

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The prospect of clearer skies is helping India draw closer to a flight test of a reusable launch vehicle demonstrator.

After delaying a test of the RLV-TD originally planned to take place last December in order to work through technical issues, the Indian Space Research Organization is anticipating the suborbital launch of the 6.5 meter, 1.57 ton winged spaceplane will take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in early May.

The RLV-TD, which will launch to an altitude of 70 km aboard a solid rocket and then be recovered at sea, is being used as a pathfinder for a future Two Stage to Orbit reusable launch vehicle develop effort which could get underway later this year.

In an article in the Times of India, K Sivan, the director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) where the vehicle is being integrated described the mission as merely “baby step,” but an important one nonetheless.

“What we do now is only a demonstration. It is no way near to the real RLV. It is like a drop test to bring back a launched vehicle to some point. It is just a baby step towards the giant leap.”.

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