India’s space shuttle aces first test flight

Image: RLV-TD
India’s RLV-TD prototype rises from its launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center. (Credit: ISRO)

India’s space agency says it put its winged space shuttle prototype, known as the RLV-TD, through a successful first test flight today.

In a congratulatory tweet, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the launch of “India’s first indigenous space shuttle.”

The Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator was designed to validate the uncrewed craft’s autonomous navigation system, guidance and control, thermal protection system and other elements of the mission profile under hypersonic conditions, the Indian Space Research Organization said in a news release.

ISRO said RLV-TD was launched from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota atop an HS9 solid rocket booster and rose to a height of about 40 miles (65 kilometers). Then it glided back down under autonomous control and made a simulated landing into a designated patch of the Bay of Bengal, about 280 miles from Sriharikota.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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