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Towards an Indian Space Shuttle

Towards an Indian Space Shuttle
Highlights

Yet again, kudos to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)! Our space scientists made the nation proud with the successful launch of Reusable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD). 

Yet again, kudos to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)! Our space scientists made the nation proud with the successful launch of Reusable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).

It’s a noteworthy experiment in space transportation. The ISRO which has a creditable record of launching cost-effective missions to Moon and Mars has further advanced its frugal technology with the technological demonstration of reusable launch vehicle.

The mastery over this cutting edge technology will substantially reduce the cost of launching satellites. Experts state that India with this technology can launch satellites at one-tenth of the present cost itself.

This would not only reduce the budgets for the ISRO but significantly enhance the capacity of India in the lucrative global space market. This market worth billions of dollars has cut-throat competition. India’s success with the reusable technology will make it a competitive player in this market in which it has already entered firmly.

India is now launching its satellites using PSLV and GSLV depending on the orbits in which the satellites are to be placed. These are technically called Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELVs). The inherent limitation in such type of vehicles is that we cannot recover space assets after the launch as they get burnt up after putting satellites into space. Every new launch needs a new vehicle leading to higher costs. The reusable launch technology helps in reuse of the vehicle for next launch.

The success with RLV is a consummation of over a decade-long effort. It’s a highly sophisticated technology as the vehicle re-enters earth’s atmosphere, it is subjected to unbelievably very high temperatures. But, yesterday’s success is only a beginning.

Indian RLV can be a reality after many more tests that may take another decade or so. The government should liberally finance ISRO to expedite the research and experimentation. Otherwise, India may face stiff competition in the international space market.

Even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on science and technology also recommended substantial hike in the budgetary allocations for ISRO which the Government of India should immediately implement.

Notwithstanding this astounding success , ISRO has to continuously focus on making its launch vehicles more reliable, expand their payload carrying capacity and further make them cheaper to remain competitive.

Therefore, the success with RLV does not mean expending with expendable vehicles. The SWOT analysis of these technologies can undergo swift changes.

Once the Indian RLV becomes fully operational, on-demand space launch access can be provided. Coming close on the heels of India having its own constellation of navigational satellites, ISRO‘s latest success makes us more cheerful.

The ISRO’s future missions include Chandrayan-2 man mission into space, and even a mission to Venus. Much more exciting journey waits. Let’s congratulate our space science community on reaching this great milestone.

The ISRO is fast becoming a comprehensive player in the world of space. Its satellites serve an impressive array of purposes. Its tryst with deep space exploration has already won international acclaim.

Scaling new heights has become routine for ISRO. The more we invest in space the greater achievements ISRO will deliver.

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