Featured Image (Credits ISRO)

Friday, June 21, 2013

ISRO's Reusable Technology Demonstration Programs

In the quest of developing a reusable launch vehicle to enable low cost access to space, ISRO has been working on three technology development programs. These programs strive to demonstrate necessary technologies like high temperature reusable materials, hypersonic aerodynamics etc., that will form building blocks of ISRO's future RLVs. The three technology demonstration programs are following: 1) Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE), 2) Dual Mode Ram Jet Flight Technology Demonstrator (DMRJ-FTD) and Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).

Reusable Technology Demonstration Programs (credit ISRO)

SRE program aims to develop and demonstrate ballistic reentry and recovery technologies that translates into the capability to safely recover an orbiting spacecraft back to earth on a particular location. This capability is crucial in the development of TSTO RLV. Key technologies being developed in the SRE programs are reusable thermal protection system, deceleration and flotation system, re-entry control and propulsion systems, space qualified parachute systems, locating aids, etc.

SRE Spacecraft (credit ISRO)

DMRJ-FTD program aims to develop and demonstrate Air Breathing Propulsion that will be an important part of the ISRO RLV. Initial goal of the program is to demonstrate a 0.1-ton class ram-scramjet engine, after which one-ton class of turbojet, ramjet and scramjet engines are planned to be used in the (RLV-TD) program. This would pave the way for subsequent development of bigger air breathing engines (of 10 ton class and above) for advanced TSTO-RLV.
The current focus of the project is on the development of scramjet engine and flight-testing in a unique mission providing necessary dwell time within defined “Mach number–dynamic pressure” window for demonstrating the technology. The project is also establishing a scramjet propulsion test facility, the biggest of its kind in the country, for testing and qualification of combustors in scramjet/ramjet conditions.

ISRO's Advanced Technology Vehicle with two scramjet engines (credit ISRO)

RLV-TD program aims to develop and demonstrate technologies required for the first stage of TSTO RLV. The program consists of a series of technology demonstration missions that is a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle. A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion. 

RLV-TD Vehicle (credit ISRO)

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