ISRO is planning to launch an indigenously developed space shuttle from Sriharikota as early as the next two to three months. According to a Times of India report, the 1.5 ton space shuttle can be reused and is being developed to significantly bring down the cost of placing objects in orbit. Currently, ISRO spends $5,000 (Rs. 3 lakhs approx.) to place a 1 kg payload in orbit and the scientists hope that the RLV-TD space shuttle can reduce that figure to about $500 (Rs. 30,000).
The unmanned shuttle has been programmed to fly to a height of 70 kms after which it will descend back to earth and land safely in the Bay of Bengal. ISRO scientists revealed to TOI that the shuttle will survive orbital re-entry thanks to special heat-resistant tiles built with material sourced from Tamil Nadu, capable of withstanding temperatures up to 1200 degrees celsius. However, even though ISRO expects the shuttle to survive the 900 second mission, it doesn’t plan on recovering the shuttle from the bottom of the Bay of Bengal anytime soon. Instead, ISRO will use the data to develop a shuttle that will be capable of landing on a runway.
TOI estimates the total cost of the project at around the Rs. 100 crore mark.
Source: The Times of India