The success of India's first recoverable satellite mission SRE-1, launched in January, has spurred the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to plan an augmented version for the end of the decade.

The 550kg (1,210lb) SRE-1 splashed down on 22 January, 12 days after its launch by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre. It landed using drogue and main parachutes and a flotation system, its mission providing ISRO with experience in re-entry, thermal protection systems (TPS) and hypersonic aerothermodynamics.

Launched into a 635km (395 miles) circular polar orbit, the spacecraft was used for microgravity experiments. SRE-1 was then placed into an elliptical orbit with a 485km perigee and a 637km apogee in preparation for re-entry. Its TPS comprised a mix of carbon phenolic ablative material and silica tiles.

"We are happy with SRE-1. The recovered vehicle is in immaculate condition and we are fully satisfied with the TPS and guidance and control system used during the re-entry phase," says project director A Subramonian.

ISRO expects SRE-2 will be a low-cost platform for microgravity experiments and a technology demonstrator for a human spaceflight programme.

Source: Flight International