Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is one of the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO towards developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low cost access to space. The configuration of RLV-TD is similar to that of an aircraft and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and aircraft. The winged RLV-TD has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing and powered cruise flight. In future, this vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two stage orbital launch vehicle.
RLV-TD consists of a fuselage (body), a nose cap, double delta wings and twin vertical tails. It also features symmetrically placed active control surfaces called Elevons and Rudder. This technology demonstrator was boosted to Mach no: 5 by a conventional solid booster (HS9) designed for low burn rate. The selection of materials like special alloys, composites and insulation materials for developing an RLV-TD and the crafting of its parts is very complex and demands highly skilled manpower. Many high technology machinery and test equipment were utilised for building this vehicle.
Objectives of RLV-TD:
- Hypersonic aero thermodynamic characterisation of wing body
- Evaluation of autonomous Navigation, Guidance and Control (NGC) schemes
- Integrated flight management
- Thermal Protection System Evaluation
RLV-TD was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016 from SDSC SHAR Sriharikota validating the critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management.