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ISRO chief says RLV landing demo this weekend

At 8th India International Science Festival, ISRO chairman S. Somanath spoke about space agency’s missions in 2023.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to carry out the first landing demonstration of its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) - Landing Experiment (LEX) Saturday, its chairperson S. Somanath has said.

On the sidelines of the 8th India International Science Festival in Bhopal, Somnath said the demonstration will continue as planned provided climate and weather conditions are suitable.

An RLV is a launch vehicle that is designed to return to the Earth substantially intact and could, therefore, be reused.

ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) Programme is a series of technology demonstration missions, seen as the first step towards realising a two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) fully reusable vehicle. A TSTO, or a two-stage rocket, is a spacecraft in which two distinct stages provide propulsion consecutively in order to achieve orbital velocity.

This is the first time ISRO is conducting a landing demonstration for its RLV-TD Programme.

First, the RLVTDLEX date will be fixed after the lifting trial is done. The agency will use Chinook as opposed to Mi17 as planned earlier.

ISRO has also planned the launch of a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) with a payload capacity to deliver 500 kg to low Earth orbit (500 km), Somanath said

The SSLV launch, planned between 10-15 February, which was actually scheduled to launch on 74th Republic Day (26th January, 2023), comes six months after ISRO’s maiden SSLV-D1 failed to reach stable orbit because of a sensor fault in the separation stage.

Recalling that mission, which was launched on 7 August last year, Somanath said he was “not very enthused” about ISRO’s achievement in 2022.

He added that ISRO also wanted to conduct an abort test — that would check the system meant to help crew escape from a spacecraft in case of emergency — for its space mission Gaganyaan last year, but couldn’t do it.

In addition to the RLVs and SSLV, the space agency also has plans to conduct LAS / Crew Escape test of Gaganyaan spacecraft and to launch a spacecraft to study the Sun this year, the scientist said.

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