Reusable rocket stages - ISRO Working on Recovering Two Stages of the Rocket
While Elon Musk is busy redefining the launch industry, with SpaceX reusable rocket Falcon 9, the Indian Space Research Organisation is quietly working on its reusable launcher. And given ISRO’s reputation for coming up with the most cost-effective technologies — its Mars mission Mangalyaan had cost less than the Hollywood blockbuster Gravity — this may come as a piece of great news for the satellite launch industry.
ISRO already having tested it on May 23, 2016. In a recent press briefing, ISRO Chairman, Dr. K Sivan said that the space agency’s agenda is of making RLV’s a reality and to go a step further beyond Space X who has been able to recover the first stage, by not only recovering the first but also the second stage of a rocket.
Combining the technologies of an aircraft and launch vehicle, the RLV TD is a hybrid vehicle that has configuration never attempted before. The main objectives of the RLV TD are to reduce the cost of launch by increasing reusability and to increase reliability by achieving a Two Stage to Orbit (TSTO) capability. It is a different approach from SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Out of the 2 rocket stage, the first rocket stage will be recovered just like the Falcon rocket which SpaceX is currently doing. However, for the second stage, they are developing a winged body like a space shuttle. This shuttle will be attached as a second stage in a rocket. It will carry the top portion of the rocket comprising a second stage in a rocket. It will carry the top portion of the rocket comprising a satellite or spacecraft to space. Once it injects the satellite in its orbit, the shuttle will glide back to the earth and land on an airstrip like an aircraft. However, recovering the second stage is a complicated task and has never been tried before by any space agency.
This will considerably help in reducing the cost of landing significantly and will be a new milestone if accomplished.