ISRO gears up for 3rd RLV landing test with IAF Chinook

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set for the much-anticipated RLV LEX-03 mission, the third landing experiment for its Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology. This test, scheduled for June 21, 2024 (as indicated by the NOTAM for IAF helicopter exercise), will see ISRO collaborating once again with the Indian Air Force (IAF) using their Chinook helicopters.

Building on Success

The RLV LEX program aims to perfect the autonomous landing capabilities of the winged RLV prototype, named Pushpak. The successful completion of RLV-LEX2 in March 2024 demonstrated Pushpak’s ability to land under non-ideal conditions. RLV LEX-03 will push the boundaries further by introducing a more challenging scenario.

Key Test Objectives

  • Increased Cross-Range Error: Unlike the 150-meter off-nominal landing of LEX2, LEX-03 will involve a deliberate cross-range error of about 500 meters. This simulates a situation where the RLV deviates significantly from its intended landing path.
  • Advanced Guidance Algorithm: The test will implement a new, decoupled guidance system that can handle errors in both longitudinal and lateral directions simultaneously. This refined system promises greater precision and control during landing.

Significance of the Test

A successful RLV LEX-03 mission is crucial for ISRO’s reusable launch vehicle program. It will validate the effectiveness of the guidance system under more demanding conditions and pave the way for future advancements in RLV technology. This ultimately contributes to ISRO’s goal of developing a cost-effective and sustainable space transportation system.

Weather Watch

As with previous attempts, weather conditions will play a critical role in the success of the RLV LEX-03 mission. Delays due to unfavorable weather are a possibility, but ISRO is prepared to conduct the test as soon as the conditions become optimal.

This upcoming test signifies a significant step forward in ISRO’s efforts to establish a robust reusable launch vehicle capability. The collaboration with the IAF using their Chinook helicopters demonstrates the combined strength of India’s space and defense sectors working towards achieving technological breakthroughs.


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