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24 MAY 2016 QUESTION BANK

 

24th MAY 2016 

QUESTION BANK 

(1 Question)

 

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length. 

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers. 

GS III: S&T - SPACE

1.     ISRO is already well-known for launching satellites at a far cheaper cost than other space agencies. In this context what is the significance of India’s efforts in developing a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)?

 

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/successful-rlv-launch-isros-new-frontiers/article8641710.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/india-successfully-launches-reusable-launch-vehicle/article8635448.ece

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reusable_launch_system

 

With the successful launch of the first technology demonstrator of the indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken a baby step in building a vehicle that can be reused multiple times to launch satellites into orbit. The hypersonic flight, that lasted about 770 seconds from lift-off to splashdown in the Bay of Bengal, reached an altitude of about 65 km before re-entering the atmosphere at nearly five times the speed of sound. Many more such successful launches have to be undertaken before the RLV becomes a reusable launch system to put satellites into orbit. Some of the objectives of this week’s launch were to test the aero-thermodynamic characterisation of the vehicle with wings when it re-enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speed; the control and guidance system; the control system to land the vehicle at a specific location; and the hot structure, the basic body-carrying part of the vehicle with heat protecting tiles. The ultimate objective is to test the vehicle’s performance when it travels at a speed of Mach 25 using air-breathing propulsion. It will take 10 to 15 years, and several more launches, before ISRO readies a reusable launch vehicle for commercial use.

 

Building a fully and rapidly reusable launch vehicle will play a pivotal role in cutting down by as much as 80 per cent the cost of launching satellites into orbit. In fact, ISRO is already well-known for launching satellites at a far cheaper cost than other space agencies. Currently, the bulk of the launch cost comes from building the rocket, which can be used just once, as the rockets get burnt on re-entry into the atmosphere. No other space agency has reusable launch vehicles in operation, and ISRO has taken a lead in developing one. Learning from the mistakes of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in its space shuttle programme, ISRO will not use the same reusable vehicle to launch satellites and carry astronauts as it drastically reduces the payload capacity and thereby increases the cost per kg. ISRO will also use cutting-edge technology to shield the launch vehicle from intense heat to reduce, if not completely eliminate, refurbishment expenses. Getting this right would enable the vehicle to be reused within a very short span of time. If all works as per plan, ISRO should be able to break even after 25 to 50 launches, bringing down the cost of further launches on the same vehicle. 

 

All you need to know about the project

 

·         India’s space port at Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh will witness the launch of the indigenously made Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD). After the launch, it will be glide back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal.

·         The RLV-TD is unlikely to be recovered from sea during this experiment as it is expected that the vehicle will disintegrate on impact with water since it is not designed to float.

·         The purpose of the experiment is to help the shuttle glide over a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal, situated 500 km from the coast.

·         India’s frugal engineers believe the solution to reducing cost of launching satellites into orbit is to recycle the rocket or make it reusable.

·         Scientists at ISRO believe that they could reduce the cost by as much as 10 times if reusable technology succeeds, bringing it down to $2,000 per kg.

·         The final version will take at least 10-15 years to get ready.

·         The special booster or the first stage is powered using a solid fuel and it will hoist the RLV-TD prototype to about 70 km into the atmosphere from where the descent will begin.

·         During the descent phase, small thrusters will help the vehicle navigate itself to the landing area.


·         The making of the Indian space shuttle or RLV-TD has taken five years and the government has invested Rs. 95 crore in the project. This flight will test the capability of the vehicle to survive a re-entry at speeds higher than that of sound.

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