The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully flight tested the RLV-TD demonstrator vehicle, India's first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime. The vehicle is a smaller version of a full-scale vehicle that India hopes to fly around the end of the next decade.
The HS9 solid rocket booster carrying RLV-TD lifted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 07:00hr IST on 23rd May. After a successful flight of 91.1 seconds, HS9 burn out occurred, following which both HS9 and RLV-TD coasted to an altitude of about 56km. At that height, RLV-TD separated from booster and further ascended to a height of about 65km.
From that peak altitude of 65km, the vehicle began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5. The vehicle’s Navigation, Guidance and Control system accurately steered the vehicle during this phase for safe descent.
After successfully surviving the elevated temperatures of re-entry with the help of its Thermal Protection System (TPS), RLV-TD successfully glided down to the defined landing spot over Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450km from Sriharikota, thereby fulfilling its mission objectives.
The vehicle was successfully tracked during its flight from ground stations at Sriharikota and a shipborne terminal. Total flight duration from launch to landing was about 770 seconds.
According to ISRO, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management were successfully validated.