News Brief

ISRO Achieves Milestone With Successful Third And Final Test Of 'Pushpak' Reusable Launch Vehicle Experiment—All About It

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 23, 2024, 03:13 PM | Updated 03:17 PM IST


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday (23 June) achieved its third consecutive success in the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Landing EXperiment (LEX).

The third and final test in the series of LEX was conducted at 07.10 am at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

Building on the successes of the RLV LEX-01 and LEX-02 missions, RLV LEX-03 showcased the autonomous landing capability of the RLV under more challenging conditions, including a cross range of 500 m compared to 150 m in the previous test.

The winged vehicle, named 'Pushpak', was released from an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter at an altitude of 4.5 km.

Pushpak autonomously executed cross-range correction manoeuvres, approached the runway, and performed a precise horizontal landing at the runway centerline.

"Due to this vehicle’s low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration, the landing velocity exceeded 320 kmph, compared to 260 kmph for a commercial aircraft and 280 kmph for a typical fighter aircraft. After touchdown, the vehicle velocity was reduced to nearly 100 kmph using its brake parachute, after which the landing gear brakes were employed for deceleration and stop on the runway," the ISRO said in a statement.

During this ground roll phase, Pushpak utilised its rudder and nose wheel steering system to autonomously maintain a stable and precise ground roll along the runway.

This mission simulated the approach and landing interface for a vehicle returning from space, demonstrating ISRO's expertise in acquiring critical technologies for the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle. The advanced guidance algorithm for longitudinal and lateral plane error corrections, essential for future Orbital Re-entry Missions, was validated during this mission.

This mission simulated the approach and landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space, reaffirming ISRO’s expertise in acquiring the most critical technologies required for the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), the statement said.

"Through this mission, the advanced guidance algorithm catering to longitudinal and lateral plane error corrections, which is essential for the future Orbital Re-entry Mission has been validated," it added.

According to ISRO, the RLV-LEX uses multisensor fusion including sensors like Inertial sensor, Radar altimeter, Flush air data system, Pseudolite system and NavIC.

Notably, the RLV-LEX-03 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, the statement said.

The mission was a collaborative effort involving multiple ISRO centres, including SAC, ISTRAC, SDSC-SHAR, and IISU, with significant support from the Indian Air Force, Aeronautical Development Establishment, Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment, and others.

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Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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