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ISRO Nails 3rd Landing Test Of Reusable Launch Vehicle 'Pushpak'

On Sunday, ISRO completed its third and final landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) ‘Pushpak’, an autonomous landing and reusable space technology.

By Rashaad Ather
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ISRO launching Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

ISRO launching Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at 7:30 am on Sunday at Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Karnataka's Chitradurga, successfully finished its 3rd landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV LEX-03) named ‘Pushpak’. The space agency said in an official statement.

"Hat-trick for ISRO in RLV LEX! ISRO achieved its third (and final) consecutive success in the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Landing EXperiment (LEX) on June 23, 2024. "Pushpak" executed a precise horizontal landing, showcasing advanced autonomous capabilities under challenging conditions. With the objectives of RLV-LEX accomplished, ISRO embarks into RLV-ORV, the orbital reusable vehicle," ISRO wrote on X.

ISRO chairman S Somanath congratulated the team for their dedication in sustaining the streak of success in complex missions. J Muthupandian is the Mission Director, and B Karthik is the Vehicle Director for this mission.

Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV):

It is a launch vehicle designed to return to Earth without scratch, allowing it to be launched multiple times or containing recoverable vehicle stages for future use.

The mission, led by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), involved various ISRO centres and received support from the Indian Air Force, Aeronautical Development Establishment, and other organisations. 

S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director of VSSC, said this success boosts ISRO's confidence in critical technologies for future orbital re-entry missions.

Through this mission, ISRO showcased proficiency in crucial technologies for Reusable Launch Vehicle development and validated a guidance algorithm vital for future Orbital Re-entry Missions.

Technical Features:

 The winged vehicle was released from an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter at 4.5 km altitude and autonomously executed a precise landing at the runway centerline.

Pushpak's low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration allowed it to land at a velocity exceeding 320 km/h.

The mission reused the winged body and flight systems from the LEX-02 mission without modification, showcasing ISRO's capability to design reusable flight systems for multiple missions.