The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been actively involved in developing a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) to achieve low-cost access to space.
The Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is a significant technological endeavor by ISRO, featuring a two-stage engine designed to propel the vehicle into low-earth orbit.


The RLV-TD is essentially a space plane with a low lift-to-drag ratio, making it more aerodynamically efficient than traditional rockets.
It utilizes localized navigation systems, reducing dependence on external guidance and enhancing autonomous capabilities.
RLVs are cost-effective as they can be reused for multiple missions, minimizing the need for building new launch vehicles from scratch.
These vehicles have a low burn rate, leading to reduced fuel consumption during the flight.
The presence of symmetrically placed active control surfaces, such as Elevons and Rudder, allows for better maneuverability and control during flight.


Despite being reusable, the fuel used in RLVs cannot be reclaimed, which remains a drawback in terms of resource utilization.
The crafting of RLV components is highly complex and demands a skilled workforce, adding to production challenges and costs.
RLVs emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during their launches, contributing to environmental concerns.
These vehicles are mainly restricted to low-earth orbit missions, limiting their applications beyond specific payload requirements.


In May 2016, ISRO achieved a significant milestone by demonstrating the re-entry of the winged vehicle RLV-TD during the HEX Mission. The vehicle successfully landed on a hypothetical runway over the Bay of Bengal, showcasing precise landing capabilities.
Subsequent missions, like the LEX mission, further advanced the RLV-TD’s capabilities, achieving autonomous high-speed landing during the final approach phase of the re-entry flight path, solidifying ISRO’s progress in the development of reusable launch vehicles.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish August 2, 2023