India’s space shuttle makes successful virgin test flight

INTERESspaceshuttleIndia has successfully launched an experimental spacecraft that it hopes will form the basis of its own re-usable space shuttle.

ISRO that launched the rocket from its facility north of Chennai, said they have accomplished RLV-TD, which is around the size of a minibus, that was lifted to an altitude of 70 km before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, exposing it to temperatures of up to 2000 C.

One-sixth the size of the planned shuttle, this test flight was also designed to asses if the shuttle could glide and navigate at speeds of up to 6000 kmph, 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 to send satellites into space. The shuttle is not expected to come into service for some 15 years but ISRO hopes the technology will reduce costs and made access to space more affordable. ISRO is planning further tests of the technology, including the supersonic scramjet engine it hopes will power the craft.

Until now only the US, USSR, Europe and Japan have successfully launched space shuttles.