India Launches Its First Space Shuttle - Atlas Obscura
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India Launches Its First Space Shuttle

The country edges toward manned missions.

(Photo: ISRO)

The international space race got a little hotter Monday, after India said they’d successfully launched a tiny space shuttle 43 miles into the air, taking another step forward in its efforts to deploy a reusable spacecraft.

The shuttle was perched atop a rocket, and launched from a pad in Sriharikota, India, on the country’s eastern coast, according to the BBC.

The unmanned shuttle, called the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV-TD), was to shoot miles into the air before falling back to earth, likely getting destroyed in the process. Indian scientists hope to get data on autonomous landings, and the leap to hypersonic speeds, the BBC said. 

In addition, the shuttle was relatively cheap, as far as spacecraft go: just one billion rupees, or about $14 million. 

India has said that a manned space shuttle could be in operation in under 10 years. Several other countries have also pursued a reusable spacecraft, which would be the first in operation since NASA retired the Space Shuttle five years ago. 

But few are trying to build space shuttles, like India, instead looking for ways to better reuse rockets