First test flight of India’s prototype space shuttle delayed

Because of a discovered leak, India’s space agency ISRO has delayed the first flight of an engineering test prototype of a reusable space shuttle.

Sources said on Sunday that the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), under development at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) here at Thumba, developed a minor leak during a test, forcing the ISRO to postpone the mission. The ambitious RLV-TD, the first small step to building a ‘space shuttle’ which can return to earth after accomplishing space missions, is likely to be delayed up to April 2016. ISRO had originally planned a mid-2015 launch for the RLV-TD. It had later been postponed to January 2016.

VSSC Director Dr K Sivan said that some of the components had to be re-assembled. ‘’If things go as planned, we can launch the mission in the first week of February. Otherwise, the test will be conducted in the first week of April,’’ he said.