India’s apex space agency is following Elon Musk's idea — and taking it a step forward

India’s apex space agency is following Elon Musk's idea — and taking it a step forward
Indian Space Research Organisation's 'Reusable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator'ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is looking to top Elon Musk's SpaceX success by applying reusable launch technology (RLT) to their rocket launches.
  • Unlike SpaceX, who only used RLT in the first stage of a rocket launch, ISRO's wants to apply it to the second stage as well.
  • The application of RLT to the second stage of a rocket launch is something that no other space agency in the world has been able to achieve so far.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is following in Elon Musk’s footsteps by trying to replicate the success SpaceX had with its reusable launch technology (RLT). It’s even looking to take it a lot further.

SpaceX was only able to apply RLT to the first stage of a rocket launch, but ISRO wants to conduct an advanced version that will also carry into the second stage. The test is scheduled to take place between the months of June and July, later this year.

K Sivan, the Chairman at ISRO, told the Times of India, “The second stage recovery has never been tried by any other space agency in the world, not even SpaceX.”

ISRO’s success with this mission could make it a bigger part of the global market that’s set to grow to $7 billion by 2024.

Building on ISRO’s commercial success

Reusable launch technology (RLT) basically allows the company to re-use its first stage rocket for multiple launches. Not only does it save the company money, but also time that would be spent building a rocket from scratch.

ISRO has already had some success with it back in 2016 when it launched the HS9 solid rocket booster from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The Reusable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) on board the HS9 survived re-entry and neatly landed in the designated area over the Bay of Bengal.

Currently, SpaceX dominates the global market for rocket launches. Starting out in 2009, it was able to capture more than 50% of the market share by 2018 — largely due to their use of reusable technology.

On the other hand, Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial and marketing arm of ISRO, only caters to 0.6% of the global market.

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