ISRO's RLV Achieves Milestone With Third Successful Landing Test, Paves Way Future Orbital Re-Entry

The test was carried out at 7:10 am at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Challakere, Chitradurga district which is approximately 220 kilometers from Bengaluru.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully conducted the third landing experiment of its reusable launch vehicle (RLV) which is known as RLV-LEX-03, on Sunday morning. The test was carried out at 7:10 am at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Challakere, Chitradurga district which is approximately 220 kilometers from Bengaluru.

The test was built on the success of RLV-LEX-02 and RLV-LEX-01 which were the previously conducted experiments. ISRO’s RLV project is crucial to advance India’s capabilities to explore the space since it demonstrates the technologies that will be needed for the advancements.

Enhancing Performance and Precision

The RLV-LEX-03 was largely aimed at improving the performance of the vehicle, its guidance, as well as landing capabilities of the vehicle. Compared to the previous landing experiment, RLV-LEX-02, this test involved more challenging conditions. S Unnikrishnan Nair, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), that developed the RLV, brought to light the that this mission was rather more complex. “RLV-LEX3 will be more challenging as the ‘intentional cross-range error’ of around 500m will be tested, compared to around 150m during LEX-02 and that the velocity azimuth with respect to the runway centre was adjusted to 2°, deviating from the previous mission’s 0° alignment,” Nair explained.

A Complex and Autonomous Landing

ISRO, on Sunday, stated, ” “RLV-LEX-03 re-demonstrated the autonomous landing capability of the RLV under more challenging release conditions (cross range of 500 m) and more severe wind conditions. The vehicle, named ‘Pushpak, was released from an IAF Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 4.5km.”
It was noted that from this point, Pushpak autonomously executed cross-range correction maneuvers, approached the runway, and performed a precise horizontal landing at the runway centerline.

“Due to its low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration, the landing velocity exceeded 320kmph, compared to 260kmph for a commercial aircraft and 280 kmph for a typical fighter aircraft,”ISRO also noted that due to the vehicle’s low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration, the landing velocity exceeded 320 kilometers per hour, compared to 260 kilometers per hour for a commercial aircraft and 280 kilometers per hour for a typical fighter aircraft.

Following touchdown, the vehicle’s speed was reduced to nearly 100 kilometers per hour using its brake parachute, after which the landing gear brakes were employed for deceleration and stop on the runway.

“During this ground roll phase, the vehicle utilised its rudder and nose wheel steering system to autonomously maintain a stable and precise ground roll along the runway, Isro said, adding that the mission simulated the approach and landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space,” ISRO stated.

The mission also reflected the implementation of an advanced guidance algorithm which is capable of correcting errors in both the longitudinal and lateral planes simultaneously which is extremely essential for future orbital re-entry missions. This decoupled algorithm, an improvement over the approach used in LEX-02, aims to enhance the precision and control of the reusable launch vehicle.

ALSO READ: Mysterious Monolith With Unknown Origins Found In Las Vegas – Check It Out!

“The RLV-LEX uses multisensor fusion including sensors like inertial sensor, radar altimeter, flush air data system, pseudolite system and NaviC. Notably, the mission reused the winged body and flight systems as such without any modification, from the LEX-02 mission, demonstrating the robustness of Isro’s capability of design to reuse flight systems for multiple missions,” ISRO asserted.

ISRO emphasized the robustness of its design, stating that the mission reused the winged body and flight systems from the LEX-02 mission without any modifications. This mission mirrors the approach and landing interface of a vehicle that is returning from space, as well as the high-speed landing conditions for the vehicle which reaffirms that ISRO is proficient in acquiring essential technologies that are necessary for developing a reusable launch vehicle (RLV).