Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation and its partners successfully demonstrated a precise landing experiment for a Reusable Launch Vehicle at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka.

Key details:

  • The Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX) test was the second of five tests that are a part of ISRO’s efforts to develop RLVs.
  • These are space planes/shuttles, which can travel to low earth orbits to deliver payloads and return to earth for use again.

The RLV-TD will be used to develop technologies like:

  1. hypersonic flight (HEX),
  2. autonomous landing (LEX),
  3. return flight experiment (REX),
  4. powered cruise flight, and
  5. Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX).
  6. ISRO’s RLV-TD looks like an aircraft.

Origins of the RLV project

  • One of the first trials of an RLV was announced by ISRO as far back as 2010, but was put off due to technical reasons.
  • Another was hinted at in 2015 but was again grounded over technical issues.
  • Finally, the first trial of the RLV-TD was conducted on May 23, 2016.


  • A reusable launch vehicle is considered a low-cost, reliable, and on-demand mode of accessing space.
  • By using RLVs the cost of a launch can be reduced by nearly 80 percent of the present cost.


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