BENGALURU: Much like astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous quote “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” when he stepped on the moon, a small, yet very significant step forward by Indian space scientists on Monday — a flawless flight of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) — could bring about a paradigm shift in voyages to the space through easy-on-the-pocket fares.
Monday’s successful test flight of the RLV augurs well for Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) as it would be able to launch very heavy satellites (six to 11 tonnes) at low cost besides help rake in the moolah in view of the spiralling demand for launch of foreign satellites by the organisation’s rockets.
This improvised version of the US-Space Shuttle could be used many times as space scientists ultimately intend a safe-landing for the booster as well as the space vehicle, shaped like an aircraft.
Monday’s flight was merely to test all systems and components onboard and therefore did not launch a satellite. Once operational, the RLV would help reduce the cost of launch of satellites or space probes by almost 80 per cent. Currently, $15,000 to $20,000 a kg is being spent on communication satellites which ultimately orbit the earth at a distance of 36,000 km from the planet. No surprise, therefore, that former chairman of ISRO, Dr Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, summed up the maiden flight of RLV as “the most significant milestone of Isro in recent years.
It is a marvelous effort by Dr Kiran Kumar (Chairman), Dr K Sivan (director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvanan-thapuram) and their colleagues,” he told this newspaper.
The landing was soft as the vehicle was intact and did not break up on impact in Bay of Bengal....