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India today successfully launched the first technology demonstrator of an indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

“Mission accomplished successfully,” an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesman told PTI soon after RLV-TD HEX-01 was flight tested with the take-off at 7 am.

This is the first time ISRO has launched a winged flight vehicle, which glided back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, some 500 km from the coast.

Known as hypersonic flight experiment, it was a 10-minute mission from lift-off to splash-down.

Here is the video:

The RLV-TD is a scaled-down model of the reusable launch vehicle.

RLV, being dubbed as India’s own space shuttle, is the unanimous solution to achieve low-cost, reliable and on-demand space access, according to ISRO scientists.

RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle, ISRO said.

It has been configured to act as a flying test-bed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion, it said.

The 6.5-metre-long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighing 1.75 tonnes was hoisted into the atmosphere on a special rocket booster.

The RLV-TD is described as “a very preliminary step” in the development of a re-usable rocket, whose final version is expected to take in 10 to 15 years.

Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated scientists on the successful launch.

“Launch of Indias first indigenous space shuttle RLV-TD is the result of the industrious efforts of our scientists. Congrats to them,” he said in a tweet.

“The dynamism & dedication with which our scientists & @isro have worked over the years is exceptional and very inspiring,” the Prime Minister said.