India’s first space shuttle launches on technology demonstrator mission.
India’s Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator launched from the First Launch Pad at Sriharikota at 7am India Central Time on Monday, May 23. Dubbed HEX-1, for Hypersonic EXperiment 1, the mission is the first in a series of flights that aim to develop technologies for reusable space vehicles.
Launching nearly two and a half hours ahead of schedule, the RLV-TD used the first stage of the SLV-3 launch vehicle, India’s first rocket.
Forty six seconds after liftoff, the 9-ton booster’s solid propellant ran out, and the vehicles rose to an altitude of 59 kilometers (36.5 miles). Once the shuttle was separated from the booster, it continued to rise to a maximum altitude of around 65 kilometers (40.3 miles).
Atmospheric reentry began shortly after, and the hypersonic portion of the test began. ISRO officials said the shuttle successfully reached the ‘virtual runway’ over the Bay of Bengal. Maximum speed was shortly above Mach 5 and total mission time was 12 minutes 50 seconds.