Indian space agency ISRO is working on developing indigenous reusable space shuttle. The space shuttle is under development, and it expected that it would be ready for test flights from the end of July this year.
ISRO has successfully tested a re-entry capsule in December 2014. This experiment can be the basis for the reusable space shuttle program ISRO is working on currently.
The reusable launch vehicle has been named as “Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator” (RLV-TD) and is in the shape of a small aircraft. The vehicle will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.
The experimental vehicle would have a weight of around 1.5 tonnes. This vehicle would be strapped to the solar booster on the rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The rocket will carry solid fuel of 9 tonnes.
The re-entry module will be detached from the main vehicle at a height of around 70 km. Specially designed fins deployed on the vehicle will help in controlling the re-entry of the vehicle.
The vehicle has been fitted with necessary protective tiles so as to prevent its burning at high-speed re-entry. It is estimated that re-entry speed may reach as high as 2 km per second. The module will fell in Bay of Bengal post re-entry. ISRO is working on the future technology to make them land on a runway.
This space shuttle module is only an experimental one. By successfully building a re-entry module will bring the country in comparison to space research of NASA, European Space Agency, China and Russia. Such re-entry module can also pave the way for future manned flights on indigenously developed rockets.
India presently does not have a reusable space shuttle to launch its satellite into the orbit. India is dependent on European space agency for deployment of its satellites in Geosynchronous orbits. This indigenous approach could potentially save the country millions of dollars in launch fees. Current fees of putting a kilogram of satellite in space is $5,000, Indian scientists are trying to reduce it a tenth to $500 by developing reusable space shuttle modules.