Isro to conduct 3rd landing test of RLV Pushpak. All eyes on weather

Officials at the Indian space agency said that everything is ready to go including the Pushpak vehicle and the Chinook helicopter. However, the weather could force it to next week.
Isro to conduct 3rd landing test of RLV Pushpak. All eyes on weather
Photo; ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is preparing for the third landing experiment with Pushpak, the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).

Officials in the Indian space agency said that everything is ready to go, including the Pushpak and the Chinook helicopter. However, the weather could force it to next week.

The landing attempt of the RLV-LEX3 will be conducted the Aeronautical Test Range in Challakere, Karnataka. This follows the successful completion of RLV-LEX2 on March 22, where the winged prototype 'Pushpak' demonstrated autonomous landing capabilities from off-nominal conditions.

RLV-LEX3 will be more challenging, with an intentional cross-range error of around 500 meters tested, compared to 150 meters during LEX2. The spacecraft will be dropped away from the line of sight of the runway and the system will have to align itself, course correct and orient for a touchdown.

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Isro to conduct 3rd landing test of RLV Pushpak. All eyes on weather

Sources in the Indian space agency told media that the mission will be key as it will also implement an advanced guidance algorithm capable of simultaneously correcting errors in both longitudinal and lateral planes, a decoupled approach improving upon LEX2's method for enhanced precision and control.

To ensure a softer landing and reduce touchdown loads, the main landing gear's sink rate has been reduced to less than 1 meter per second, compared to the 1.5 meter per second limit during LEX2. Additionally, a smoke marker system has also been introduced to trace the descent trajectory, providing visual data for analysis and future improvements.

During the second landing experiment, Pushpak was lifted by an Indian Airforce Chinook helicopter and was released from 4.5 km altitude.

After release at a distance of 4 km from the runway, Pushpak autonomously approached the runway along with cross-range corrections.

It landed precisely on the runway and came to a halt using its brake parachute, landing gear brakes and nose wheel steering system.

The RLV-LEX series aims to develop and validate technologies for reusable launch vehicles, enabling cost-effective and sustainable space missions.

The successful completion of RLV-LEX3 and the IADT will mark significant milestones for ISRO's ambitious reusable launch vehicle and human spaceflight programs, respectively.

Source: India Today

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