India is rapidly developing its potential in the space industry. In November-December 2020, the country is set to test the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV-TD).
As you know, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has long planned to build a reusable launch vehicle capable of launching satellites into orbit and then returning to Earth for the next mission. The Indian Space Agency believes that such a shuttle will help the country save money on launching satellites into space.
India currently has only two disposable rockets, a launch vehicle for the PSLV polar satellites and a launch vehicle for the GSLV geosynchronous satellites. In addition, a small SSLV launch vehicle is also being prepared for release.
It is noteworthy that the RLV space shuttle is planned to be lifted by a helicopter and launched from a height of 4 kilometers. Landing tests of the reusable launch vehicle will take place in the Chitradurga region of Karnataka state in southern India. This was stated by the director of the Vikram Sarabaya Space Center, which is part of the ISRO structure, Mr. Somanath.
When the RLV is launched from a helicopter, it will glide and move to the runway for self-landing at Chitradurga airfield. According to an ISRO spokesman, the shuttle's interface will allow it to effectively interact with the helicopter. The shuttle navigation and control system will ensure its safe descent.
Thus, the RLV will ascend into orbit, stay in it, then re-approach and land on the runway like an airplane. By the way, in 2016, India already carried out the descent of an RLV from an altitude of 65 km and its return at a speed of about Mach 5. Then, showing good survival in high temperatures, the shuttle successfully glided down to a specific landing point 450 km from Sriharikot in Andhra Pradesh. However, then the device collapsed from impact on the water of the Bay of Bengal, since it was not designed for splashdown.
If the ambitious project of the Indian Space Agency is completed, then India will become one of the few modern countries with its own shuttle. However, according to experts, one should not expect any significant change in India's position in the space services market.
However, so far in India they do not claim to compete in the space sphere with such titans as the USA or Russia. For the Indian leadership, it is much more important, firstly, to ensure a cheaper launch of its satellites into space, and, secondly, to develop its own technologies. In this vein, the shuttle trials are helping to build Indian confidence in their own capabilities.
It is no coincidence that the shuttle tests back in 2016 were appreciated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the author of the country's industrialization program under the slogan "Made in India". As for such large intervals between tests, they are the result of insufficient funding: so far India does not have the means to accelerate space development.