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ISRO successfully carries out landing experiment of RLV 'Pushpak' in Karnataka

The RLV-LEX-02 landing experiment is the second such exercise in the series after the previous one was accomplished last year. The winged vehicle 'Pushpak' was lifted by a helicopter and made to undertake difficult manoeuvres to land on the runway in a fully autonomous mode.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: March 22, 2024 9:41 IST
ISRO, landing experiment, Pushpak, reusable launch vehicle
Image Source : ISRO (X) ISRO successfully executed the landing experiment of the 'Pushpak' reusable launch vehicle in Karnataka.

New Delhi: In another achievement for the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), it successfully executed the landing experiment of 'Pushpak' reusable launch vehicle at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka on Friday morning. The RLV LEX-02 landing experiment is the second in the series after the RLV-LEX-01 was conducted last year.

According to a statement by ISRO, the RLV-LEX-02 demonstrated the autonomous landing capability of the vehicle from off-nominal conditions at release from a helicopter. The team was guided by Sunil P, Programme Director, Advanced Technology and Systems Programme, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).  J Muthupandian, Project Director, RLV was the Mission Director and B Karthik, Deputy Project Director, RLV was the Vehicle Director for this mission. 

How was the mission conducted?

The RLV was made to undertake more difficult manoeuvres with dispersions, correct both cross-range and downrange and land on the runway in a fully autonomous mode, said the Indian space agency. The winged vehicle named Pushpak was lifted by an Indian Airforce Chinook helicopter and was released from 4.5 km altitude. After release at a distance of 4 km from the runway, Pushpak autonomously approached the runway along with cross-range corrections.

The vehicle managed to land precisely on the runway and came to a halt using its brake parachute, landing gear brakes and nose wheel steering system. This mission successfully simulated the approach and high-speed landing conditions of RLV returning from space.

"With this second mission, ISRO has re-validated the indigenously developed technologies in the areas of navigation, control systems, landing gear and deceleration systems essential for performing a high-speed autonomous landing of a space-returning vehicle. The winged body and all flight systems used in RLV-LEX-01 were reused in the RLV-LEX-02 mission after due certification/clearances," ISRO said in its statement.

What does this success mean?

According to VSSC Director Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, through this successful mission, ISRO can master the terminal phase manoeuvring, landing and energy management in a fully autonomous mode, which is a critical step towards future orbital re-entry missions.

The mission was accomplished by VSSC along with the Liquid Propulsion System Centre (LPSC) and the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU). Collaboration from various agencies including IAF, ADE, ADRDE and CEMILAC contributed to the success of this mission, according to ISRO. The team was congratulated by ISRO chairman S Somanath.

ALSO READ | ISRO's Chandrayaan 4 to launch in two phases: All you need to know

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