India tests space shuttle
India has successfully test launched an unmanned prototype reusable spacecraft.
The launch was conducted from a spaceport located at Sriharikota Island in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
“We have successfully accomplished the RLV mission as a technology demonstrator,” India’s space agency spokesman Devi Prasad Karnik told reporters.
The $14 million dollar Reusable Launch Vehicle, or RLV-TD, was launched to an altitude of 43 miles (70km) before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, exposing it to the extreme heat.
One-sixth the size of the planned shuttle, this test flight was also designed to see if the shuttle could glide and navigate at high speeds, before attempting a landing on the sea in the Bay of Bengal.
The test mission was an important step towards developing a full-scale, reusable shuttle. The spacecraft was not expected to survive the flight but was designed to enable the ISRO to collect important data.
Shortly after the successful launch and reentry of the shuttle, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated India’s space research organization through his official Twitter account.
Launch of India’s first indigenous space shuttle RLV-TD is the result of the industrious efforts of our scientists. Congrats to them.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2016
The entire mission lasted just 770 seconds. India’s space agency aims to undercut its rivals as a low-cost option for governments and private firms seeking to put satellites and other equipment into orbit.