Come second half of July, India’s space agency is likely to test a small model of reusable launch vehicle shaped like an aeroplane, said a senior official.
“It is going to be an important engineering experiment for the Indian space agency. A small aeroplane-shaped vehicle would be launched from here sometime during the second half of July,” M.Y.S.Prasad, director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) told IANS over phone from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. India launches its rockets from SDSC in Sriharikota, around 80 km from here.
According to officials at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the launch vehicle will be mounted on a strap-on solid booster of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket with 9 tonne fuel. At an altitude of 70 km, the model would get separated and would glide back to earth. The descent speed would be around 2 km per second. “The descent speed would be controlled through the fins on the machine. In order to protect the equipment from friction heat when it comes back, necessary protective tiles are fixed,” an ISRO official told IANS.
The experimental vehicle would weigh around 1.5 tonne which is a far cry from the actual vehicle that is expected to carry a satellite. Last December, ISRO sent up a 3.7 tonne giant cup cake shaped module-called Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment- to study its re-entry characteristics, aero-braking and validation of its end-to-end parachute system. A 630-tonne rocket went up to 126 km when the crew capsule got detached and fell into the Bay of Bengal, 20 minutes after the blast off.
The descent speed of the crew module was controlled by three parachutes. However, the aircraft shaped vehicle that is expected to fly in July will not have any parachutes to control the descent speed but the fins and other parts would do so.