REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE (RLV) (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     24th June 2024        

Context: Pushpak, ISRO’s reusable launch vehicle, successfully completed its third and final test under the LEX (03) series conducted by the ISRO.

Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

  • About: It is a launch vehicle that is designed to return to Earth substantially intact after launching satellites into designated orbit.
  • Aim: It may be launched more than one time or that contains vehicle stages that may be recovered by a launch operator for future use in the operation of a substantially similar launch vehicle, thereby reduce the associated cost.

oRLVs may contain additional avionics and propellant, making them heavier than their expendable counterparts. 

  • Technology: The RLV is essentially a space plane with a low lift-to-drag ratio, requiring an approach at high glide angles that necessitated a landing at high velocities of 350 kmph.
  • It uses: Pseudolite system, Ka-band Radar Altimeter, NavIC receiver, indigenous Landing Gear, Aerofoil honey-comb fins and brake parachute system.
  • Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) Programme: It is planned as a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage to Orbit (TSTO) fully reusable vehicle.


  • About: It is India’s futuristic Reusable Launch Vehicle, often referred to as the "swadeshi space shuttle."
  • Design and Technology: It is designed as an all-rocket, fully reusable single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle. It incorporates technologies from the X-33, X-34, and DC-XA flight demonstrators.
  • Reusable Upper Stage: Pushpak features a reusable upper stage, including expensive electronics, which is safely brought back to Earth after each launch.
  • Capabilities: Future capabilities of Pushpak include in-orbit satellite refueling and satellite retrieval for refurbishment, enhancing its versatility in space missions.
  • Addressing Space Debris: Pushpak contributes to India’s goal of minimizing space debris, crucial for sustainable space exploration.

output themes