In an interview, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman Kiran Kumar explains the importance of the experimental Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), which is essentially an attempt by India to bring down the cost of making infrastructure in space.

If reusable rockets become a reality, the cost of access to space may come down by 10 times.

Excerpts of the interview: Q: What is this RLV, or the Indian space shuttle?

A: See, the RLV is a mechanism for us to bring down the cost of launch. We intend to go through a series of technology demonstration exercises, first one of it, what we call HEX-01,
that is a hypersonic experiment. It is called a winged body.

Therefore, we are designing for the first time a winged body, which will come back from space. It will be carried up on a solid rocket motor. In addition, this is the first of a series of experiments and we still have a long way to go till we reach the actual RLV, which will give us a tremendous capacity in terms of launching at a very low cost.

Q: So essentially you will be launching from Sriharikota, and the RLV will land it somewhere in the Bay of Bengal?

A: Yes, the first experiment is like that, we will be launching from Sriharikota, and the plane like winged body will land in the ocean, in the Bay of Bengal. That is the first one, but then ultimately, the objective will be this winged body will come and land on the Sriharikota  sland.

Q: So you will make a kind of a runway like one used to see for American space shuttles. So will we witness similar kinds of vehicles landing in Sriharikota in future?

A: Yes, ultimately, when it comes to the final stage, that is what will happen. This winged body will come back on to the land at Sriharikota.

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