ISRO to test Air-breathing Propulsion System

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has decided to test an Air-breathing Propulsion System after successful test of Reusable launch Vehicle- Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD).
The testing of air-breathing propulsion system aims to capitalize on the oxygen in the atmosphere instead of liquefied oxygen while in flight.
ISRO is evolving and testing various technologies to bring down the cost of launch vehicles and the air-breathing propulsion system is part of its new space endeavor.
Key facts

  • Conventional launch vehicles used to launch satellites, uses liquefied oxygen for combustion of propellants with oxidiser and fuel. It is carried by rockets along with the fuel, resulting in increase in lift-off mass.
  • The air-breathing propulsion system uses natural oxygen present in the atmosphere up to 50 km from the earth’s surface to burn the fuel stored in the rocket.
  • Benefits: This system would help in reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle as there will be no need of carrying liquefied oxygen on board the vehicle.
  • In turn help in increasing the energy efficiency of the rocket and also make it cost-effective.
  • Way forward: The new propulsion system would complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle that would have longer flight duration. This system involving the recently tested scramjet engine, would become crucial while sending up the spacecraft.


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