scorecardIndia’s space agency wants to design and build reusable rockets for the world
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India’s space agency wants to design and build reusable rockets for the world

India’s space agency wants to design and build reusable rockets for the world
LifeScience3 min read
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation has said that it wants to design and build reusable rockets.
  • The reusable rockets will help in reducing the cost of launching satellites.
  • The agency wants to retire the existing rockets and replace them with reusable rockets.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the country’s space agency, has said that it wants to design and build a reusable rocket. This was announced by the agency’s chairman S Somanath during the Bengaluru Space Expo 2022.

The reusable rocket aims to cut costs and will reportedly target the global market. This will help ISRO reduce the cost of launching satellites.

"All of us want launches to be much cheaper than what we do today," said S Somanath, chairman of ISRO, during the space expo.
The reusable rocket will bring down the costs
At present, it reportedly costs ISRO between $10,000 and $15,000 to place a one-kilogram payload into orbit. Somanath, during the expo, said that the agency needs to bring the cost down to $5,000 and even $1,000 in the future.

He added that the only way this would be possible is to make the rocket reusable. India does not have reusable technology in the launch vehicle sector. At present, when ISRO uses a rocket to launch satellites, the rocket re-enters after placing the satellite and burns up during the re-entry.
ISRO’s next rocket will be a reusable one
ISRO has said that its next rocket will be a reusable one after the existing GSLV Mk-III. “The next Rocket that ISRO builds after the GSLV-MK3 must be reusable,” Somanath said in a statement to PTI.

The Indian agency is reportedly already working on technologies that will help it make a reusable rocket. This includes the Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (IAD), which was recently tested successfully by ISRO.

The IAD performs many tasks, including allowing the recovery of spent stages of rockets. During a launch, a rocket has three stages, the first two are disengaged once their task is completed. IAD will allow ISRO to save the spent stages.

“So, it's a big shift from what we do today. I would like to see this take shape in the next few months. We would like to see such a rocket, a rocket which will be competitive enough, a rocket that will be cost-conscious, production-friendly, which will be built in India but operated globally for the services of the space sector," Somanath said.

Further, the ISRO chairman mentioned that the space agency will retire the existing launch vehicles being used once the technology is ready.

“This should happen in the next few years so that we can retire all those operating launch vehicles (in India) at an appropriate time," Somanath added.

After numerous experiments and failures, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has deployed reusable rockets. It is worth noting that the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are only partially reusable. However, SpaceX is trying to develop a Starship-Super Heavy System which will be fully reusable.

SpaceX had earlier said that the cost of each launch could be reduced by up to 80% once the technology is fully developed. Musk had said that the refurbishment and reuse of a booster is done for less than 10% the price of a new booster.

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