India on Monday successfully launched the first technology demonstrator of indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
"Mission accomplished successfully," an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesman told PTI soon after RLV-TD HEX-01 was flight tested with the take off at 7 am.
This is the first time ISRO has launched a winged flight vehicle, which glided back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, some 500 kilometres from the coast. Known as hypersonic flight experiment, it was about 10 minutes mission from liftoff to splashdown.
The RLV-TD is a scaled-down model of the reusable launch vehicle.
RLV, being dubbed as India's own space shuttle, is the unanimous solution to achieve low cost, reliable and on-demand space access, according to ISRO scientists.
RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle, ISRO said.
It has been configured to act as a flying testbed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion, it said.
The 6.5 metre long 'aeroplane'-like structure weighing 1.75 tons was hoisted into the atmosphere on a special rocket booster.
The RLV-TD is described as "a very preliminary step" in the development of a reusable rocket, whose final version is expected to take in 10 to 15 years.