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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved a significant milestone with the successful completion of all three autonomous landing tests for its spaceplane, “Pushpak.” This accomplishment, achieved within just 15 months, marks a major step forward in India’s reusable launch vehicle (RLV) technology development program.

The final and most challenging landing test took place on June 23rd, 2024, at the Aeronautical Test Range in Chitradurga, Karnataka. This successful test paves the way for the next phase of development for Pushpak.

While the current RLV-TD (Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator) version of Pushpak serves as a crucial test platform, the real mission lies ahead. ISRO will now focus on developing a much larger version, approximately 1.6 times the size of the current model (comparable to an SUV). This operational spaceplane will be designed to be launched into space atop a modified GSLV rocket.

A fully functional Pushpak will place India amongst a select group of nations with reusable spaceplane technology. This elite club currently includes the US with its Boeing X-37B and China’s “Shenlong” (Divine Dragon) spaceplanes, both of which have been conducting classified missions for years.