Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian Space Research Organisations’ much awaited Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV - TD) will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Monday at 7 am. The countdown will start eight hours prior to the launch, at 11 pm on Sunday. The RLV-TD is a scaled prototype of the AVATAR (Aerobic Vehicle for Transatmospheric Hypersonic Aerospace Transportable Reusable Launch Vehicle) space shuttle in India and it can return to Earth after performing its mission saving 10 times the money used for a space mission.
Isro is creating history as this is the first time they are sending a winged body that will land on a makeshift 5 km runway in the Bay of Bengal. However, Dr Sivan, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, said that once the mission is complete, the vehicle will not be recovered.
Continuous telemetry (automated communications process by which measurements and other data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and are subsequently transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring) will be accessed and accordingly, the data will be used.
"It is not a conventional tubular rocket, but an indigenous rocket which is on a sub-orbital mission. The major advantage being that it reduces the launch cost making space missions economically viable," Dr Sivan told this newspaper. He also informed that the data from RLV-TD's launch is going to be used for configuring the real reusable launch vehicle later on.
The 6.5 metre-long vehicle was shifted from VSSC during mid April to Bengaluru for acoustic tests and from there by early this month to Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. It has a mass of 1.75 ton, will go up to around 70 km after which it is expected to descend on the 5 km long runway erected in the Bay of Bengal.
The project cost Rs 95 crore which includes the facility built for it. Once the launch is successful on Monday, more than 150 space engineers belonging to VSSC and another 600 indirect engineers in different units of ISRO, would heave a sigh of relief for their relentless pursuit lasting over eight years for this space odyssey.