Replace satellites before they die

Image of Oceansat-2 from ISRO. Source: Wikimedia Commons

There was news recently that an issue with the attitude control system caused the end of life of the Megha-Tropiques mission. The satellite had completed more than ten years in orbit. This reminded me of a comment we had submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

One of the comments I had written as part of The Takshashila Institution’s comments to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests, and Climate Change addressed said:

The Department of Space must aim to put in orbit replacements for operational satellites before they reach end-of-mission life and not of end-of-design life.

pg 7, Comments to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change on Demand for Grants (DFGs) in the Union Budget for FY 2022-23

With reference to Megha-Tropiques, which had a mission life of three years, I meant that we seek to replace them before the end of three years and not the ten years it eventually served because its parts were designed to last this long.

Perhaps, replacing Megha-Tropiques was not top of mind at ISRO or CNES, the French space agency. But, consider a satellite that we plan to launch in the near future, Oceansat-3.

Oceansat-1 was launched in 1999 and had a mission life of 5 years. Oceansat-2, the replacement for Oceansat-1, was launched in September 2009, six months after 10 years of Oceansat-1’s launch anniversary. Oceansat-1 survived for 11 years.

Oceansat-2 had a mission life of 5 years. The scanning scatterometer (SCAT) on board the Oceansat-2 failed after 4.5 years. In 2016, India launched a satellite, SCATSat-1, to replace the functionality. Oceansat-2 has now been functional for 12.5 years. Oceansat-3 has been plagued with delays. The new launch date for Oceansat-3 is now August-September 2022.

The pandemic played a role in the delay. If Oceansat-2 had failed after 11 years like it’s predecessor, we would not have a Oceansat. What would that mean? The Wikipedia page says:

Oceansat satellites facilitate a range of applications including documenting chlorophyll concentration, phytoplankton blooms, atmospheric aerosols and particulate matter as well as marine weather forecast to predict cyclones.

Oceansat Wikipedia page

Forget if the others don’t make sense to you but imagine not being able to predict cyclones with accuracy. Remember the claims of being able to predict cyclones much earlier and hence being able to save more lives? What happens if that function goes kaput?

It was that functionality that was lost and was replaced by SCATSat-1 in 2016. That instrument has now been running for 5.5 years. It has crossed six months since end of it’s five year mission life. Maybe it will survive eleven years like other satellites in the series. Maybe not. Hence, replace satellites before they die.

Update on April 10 @ 2126 hrs IST: @zingaroo on Twitter had an update on SCATSat-1:

Many other things could also go wrong. This is why redundancy is good. But, there are constraints. There are budgetary and people constraints. I think that is why we must work towards replacing the satellite as close as possible to the end of mission life.

This is not the first time I am making this point. I had written an article for The Wire Science in 2019 where this was one of the issues that I had raised. In the article, I applauded ISRO because it was doing much better at replacing satellites of the CARTOSAT series compared to other remote sensing satellites just after mission life.

I thought of putting the suggestion again in the comments to the Parliamentary Committee because I thought the pandemic reinforced the lesson. In case of an unforeseen incident because of which we are not able to replace a satellite before mission life, we have some tolerance before if we launch it before end of design life. But, it we launch it close to end of design life, there is a possibility that there may be a loss of the satellite before we can launch the replacement.

A First Step to better Space Situational Awareness

It was three years after the Kargil war in 1998. It was more than a month after the deadly attacks of September 11. A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carrying a satellite with possible military applications was launched from India’s space port, Sriharikota.

Cover of the Jan-Mar 2003 edition of Space India. Source: ISRO.

The armed forces wanted a way to watch the border with Pakistan. The satellite launched on-board the PSLV-C3 mission had a capability to see vehicles on the ground (1 m resolution) and could hence help spot infiltration bids by military or terrorists from across the border from Pakistan.

This was the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). The launch took place without much fanfare.

But, this mission had a more lasting impact than just this important near-term national security mission. Flying with TES, were the Belgian PROBA and the German BIRD satellites. The PSLV after placing TES and BIRD in circular orbits, moved using its yaw RCS thrusters to place PROBA in an elliptical orbit. Each of these customers paid India $1 million for the mission. This was a big deal then, being just the second commercial mission that India was flying.

PSLV-C3 sequence of satellite separation. Illustration in the Space India edition Oct-Dec 2001.

This demonstrated PSLV capability to place multiple satellites in multiple orbits. So, the primary satellite could be placed in one orbit while the ride-share satellites could fly to the same or other orbits.

Within a couple of months of the launch, the fourth stage of the satellite broke-up on 19 December, 2002. A paper written for the 34th Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Assembly held in Houston, USA, by P Bandopadhyay, R Sharma and V Adimurthy identified the cause as explosion. They predicted that 75% of the debris would decay in the Earth’s atmosphere by end-2002.

In the Space Situational Assessment 2021 that ISRO released yesterday, they shared that 76 (almost 20%) of the 386 debris pieces from the PSLV-C3 fourth stage explosion still remain in orbit.

Although ISRO knew that passivation was important, this mission seems to have prompted active ISRO efforts towards passivation of upper stages of launch vehicles and spacecrafts of ISRO. This 2019 paper by Santosh Kosambe throws light on these efforts to reduce the contribution of space debris because of ISRO launches.

A K Ganeshan, then with the Flight Dynamics Center at ISRO Satellite Center (now, U R Rao Satellite Center) wrote a piece about space debris in the January to the March 2003 edition. This, seems to be one of the first public write-ups on the issue published by ISRO.

Ganeshan and Adimurthy (from the 2002 COSPAR paper above) wrote a paper together in Acta Astronautica in February 2006. This seems to be a seminal paper in the active efforts ISRO took in reducing space debris.

The Space Situational Assessment shares important information about Indian assets (spacecraft and Indian space debris) in orbit broadly. It shares the methods by which ISRO tracks these objects (optical telescopes and radar). It also shares the debris avoidance maneuvers it has performed to protect Indian space assets (satellites and even the Chandrayaan-II orbiter).

Sharing this important information publicly is an important first step. Transparently sharing this information with data (two-line elements) would be the logical next step.

ISRO has been building this capability with a series of optical telescopes and radars to be installed for monitoring. This would be the basic institutional infrastructure required since India is responsible, as per international law, for accidents in space caused due to Indian space assets (spacecraft and debris).

My former colleague at Takshashila, Aditya Pareek and I had written a piece in The Wire Science asking for more involvement from the open-source intelligence community. ISRO must encourage the growth of this talent in India. The sharing of the data with two-line elements will help the development and growth of an Indian community.

India has also begun the process of opening up the space sector for private companies. As private companies build spacecraft and launch vehicles, there would be an increase in the number of space assets to be monitored. While ISRO built infrastructure can monitor these, Indian companies should also become part of the solution. Companies like LeoLabs show how private companies can help solve this problem.

As the number of Indian assets in space grows, it will become increasingly important to work with other space-faring nations which may endanger Indian assets or vice-versa.

In short, we will need institutional capability, amateur enthusiasts, private companies and collaboration with other space-faring nations to keep Indian assets in space safe and to reduce Indian liability in case of any space accidents.

Interview with Dr. S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, HSFC and VSSC in Malayalam

This is a Malaylam language interview on Asianet News with Dr. S Unnikrishnan Nair. He is the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (this is where Indian rockets and launch vehicles are built) and Human Spaceflight Center (this is where India’s human spaceflight programme is being developed with astronaut training etc.).

Link to the Malayalam article that accompanies this interview.

The interviewer is Arun Raj K M. You can follow him here on Twitter. Below was his announcement for the interview posted on Twitter. He erroneously says 2020 in the tweet but he means 2022.

I do not have a cable connection at home, so I watched it on YouTube. The video was originally shared on Gareeb Scientist’s Discord (link to his YouTube channel, his Discord is for members only). At least two people on Twitter asked me for the English translation of this interview. Hence, I decided to create the English notes of the interview to help me share it with others.

There may be mistakes in my notes. Please refer to the original in Malayalam if you understand the language. Please help me with corrections in the comments section of this blog post.

  • Congratulations on the PSLV-C52 launch.
  • ISRO thinking about how to clear backlog and return to launch after COVID-19.
  • Next launch will be PSLV C-53.
    • within 2-3 months.
    • exact date will be known later.
  • Small Satellite Launch Vehicle
    • designed to launch 500 kg payload to Low Earth Orbit.
    • Has a lot of commercial possibilities.
    • Three solid stage with a liquid velocity trimming module for fourth stage.
    • All important tests are done. Vehicle being integrated right now.
    • Launch from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota.
  • Gaganyaan – India’s human space flight programme
    • Working on how Orbital module can be separated in flight.
    • It is not necessary to use GSLV Mk-III for these tests.
    • So, a Test Vehicle (TV) was developed using a single stage Vikas engine. This engine is derived from second stage of the PSLV (PS-2) and the liquid strap-ons used on the GSLV (L-40).
    • This vehicle will be used to create the conditions of flight to test the abort of the Orbital Module.
    • 1-2 flights of the Orbital Module will be undertaken this year. This gives us confidence to make sure that the Crew can escape in case of any issues in-flight.
    • TV is also being developed as a multi-purpose test platform.
    • TV will be used to test air-breathing propulsion system.
    • TV will also be used to create flight conditions for the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV-TD) for various tests like straight-line flights of the RLV.
  • Human Spaceflight Launch Vehicle
    • GSLV Mk III is converted into a human-rated launch vehicle.
    • Satellite and payload fairing used on GSLV Mk III is replaced with an Orbital Module and Crew Escape System.
    • Vehicle design has changed. Hence, vehicle undergoing tests like wind tunnel tests etc. Many of the hardware used for the vehicle is being realized at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (India’s rocketry hub).
    • Each stage needs to be analyzed separately and together to identify points at which failure is possible. Then, need to provide redundancy to avoid failure.
    • Health parameters of the launch vehicle needs to be monitored constantly. If needed, flight should be aborted under appropriate conditions. Vehicle Health Monitoring System is being developed for this purpose.
  • Second Launch Pad
    • Second Launch pad is being modified to support human spaceflight.
    • Second Launch Pad will be able to launch both GSLV Mk III and human-rated GSLV Mk III.
    • Escape chutes are being developed on the Pad.
    • Testing facilities and other accessories needed for human spaceflight being added to Second Launch Pad.
  • Astronaut Training
    • 4 astronauts in Bengaluru at Human Space Flight Center.
    • Training provided in Russia was generic in nature.
    • The Indian training round involves familiarizing astronauts with the human rated launch vehicle and the Orbital Module.
    • It also involves theory, practical, mental fitness, physical fitness etc.
    • Training likely to take 1.5 years. (I am assuming this is the Indian training round and not the total training time.)
    • Understand which areas are accessible in the Orbital Module.
    • Astronauts will also undergo simulator training. Simulators are getting ready at a temporary facility being developed in Bengaluru. This will be inaugurated soon.
  • Collaborating with Glavkosmos, other collaborations? (This was the question asked, but Unnikrishnan replied about Indian contribution. I think the interviewer intended to ask about any other foreign collaboration.)
    • This is a truly national programme.
    • We are tying up with industries, academia and other national laboratories where the technology is already available.
      • DRDO lab in Agra provided us with the parachutes.
      • Defence Food Research Laboratory in Mysore is providing the astronauts with food.
      • We have signed 12 MoUs with various national laboratories.
  • Technology Transfer to the public in the future. (Again, I think the interviewer asked about generally but Unnikrishnan is answering from PoV of human spaceflight).
    • Life support system in capsule could help in living in high altitudes. (possibly, in locations like Siachen for the Indian Army)
    • Inflatable Habitat
    • Portable Life Support System
    • Flight Suits
    • There are also many other things that we cannot foresee today.
  • Private Ecosystem
    • Space was a largely the domain of the government in the 1950s and 1960s. Private companies are playing a bigger role in space across the world.
    • Especially in America, where today they are also involved in human spaceflight and dreams of travelling to Mars.
    • We need to increase private sector participation in the Indian space programme.
    • Mechanisms like IN-SPACe (India’s regulator for the space sector) help.
    • Incubators, access to ISRO faciliteis will help.
  • Do you see private companies like Skyroot etc. as competitors?
    • No.
    • We have to encourage private ecosystem in the space sector to lower cost, to foster technological innovations etc.
    • We need to handhold them today to help them achieve these tomorrow.
    • We help them in reviews, provide test facilities, identify research areas etc.
    • By doing this, we want to increase India’s share in the space economy.
    • ISRO will do science missions.
  • Chandrayaan-3 , India’s third lunar mission
    • It will happen this year.
    • VSSC’s responsibility is for the launch vehicle, the GSLV Mk III.
    • We will make sure that VSSC delivers the same on time.
  • Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle
    • Studies on this are on-going. They are not yet in project stage.
    • These are revealed to the public when a proposal is sent to the Government after study.
    • This will be based on capabilities of ISRO, Indian industrial capability etc.
  • GSLV (what was earlier called the GSLV Mk II)
    • The cause of the failure of the GSLV-F10 has been isolated.
    • We are working on fixing this issue. Fix implementation is in progress.
    • NAVIC’s Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS-1J) will be launched on the GSLV after the fixing the issue.
  • NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)
    • Joint collaboration between ISRO and NASA. Work in progress.
    • Main responsibility of VSSC is the GSLV. Work in progress to make sure that the launch vehicle is ready to launch on time.
  • Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota (India’s space port)
    • We are developing the capability to launch multiple rockets and launch vehicle. These are in the final stages of implementation.
    • We are also building the capability to increase the number of PSLV launches. These are also in the final stages of development.
    • We are building the capability to assemble and integrate GSLV Mk III in two locations, brought to the launch pad and launched.
  • Science Missions
    • Aditya-L1 (Mission to study the Sun) – to be launched in the second half of this year.
    • Launch vehicle preparations are in progress in VSSC.
  • The change in naming conventions (from OceanSat, EduSAT to EOS and CMS etc.) is for better monitoring of the missions.
  • Semi-cryogenic engine
    • These are being built to uprate the capability of the GSLV Mk III (to help it carry more mass to orbit).
    • LPSC, Mahendragiri is working on developing this stage and associated testing facilities.
  • Vyom-mitra (a humanoid robot developed by ISRO)
    • It will fly on the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan.
    • It is now undergoing testing and qualification for space conditions for launch.
    • Robotics is an important area. We see these robots as co-travelers with humans to the Moon and Mars (for interplanetary missions).
    • Hence, we are testing and developing our capability in robotics.

Evo-Devo Universe

I had written about the Evo-Devo universe on January 3, 2021. I got many questions from readers for more details about the Evo-Devo universe. I am still in the process of learning more about it myself.

Photo by Snapwire on

Evo-Devo is a model of predicting the future of the universe. The model was developed by futurist John Smart and philosopher, Clement Vidal. It is a possible theoretical explanation for the Universe. The authors propose a model that mixes two other existing models – evolutionary and developmental model.

However, scientists, presently think that the universe is fully evolutionary.

Evolutionary in the Evo-Devo is the bottom-up process of evolution. This is what we see in biology and shown by Charles Darwin. The authors call this part of the process “chaotic, variety-producing, locally adaptive, and unpredictable”.

Developmental in the Evo-Devo is the top-down process of development by planning. The authors call this part of the process “stabilizing, convergently unifying, globally adaptive and predictable”.

The authors think that the mixture is in the Pareto ratio (80:20). This ratio could be 90:10, 95:5, 98:2 or could move in either direction as more data becomes available.

In his essay, The Goodness of the Universe, John Smart applies the above theory to show that the Universe becomes increasingly good as it evolves and develops into networks. As these networks miniaturize and becomes dense, it becomes more likely that humans will stay on Earth than go out into the cosmos.

What they talk about when they talk about the GSLV?

The GSLV-F10/EOS-03 mission failed on August 12, 2021. The vehicle faced an issue in it’s third cryogenic stage.

What does ISRO mean when they say GSLV? There is a lot of confusion between the GSLV Mk I and the GSLV Mk II. The YouTuber Gareeb Scientist raised this question in a video he posted on August 8, 2021. He provides the reasons for this confusion.

I believed the first version of the story shared in Gareeb Scientist’s video. I believed that the Mk I was a reference to the GSLVs which flew with the Russian cryogenic engine, KVD-1. And, thought that the Mk II referred to the GSLV which flew with the Indian cryogenic engine, CE-7.5.

This version was shared by ISRO in the brochure of the GSLV-D3 which flew on April 15, 2010. ISRO has removed this brochure from it’s website. But, there is an archived version online as well as on the VSSC website [PDF]. Page two of this brochure carries this explanation.

The Wikipedia page for GSLV still references this explanation and describes variants in this manner. I think that this has contributed to this confusion.

ISRO seems to have changed this version of the story in 2015 in an e-book published on its website, Fishing Hamlet to Red Planet. You need an epub reader to read the book. In an essay by R V Perumal titled, Evolution of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, he mentions that the GSLV Mk I was actually a modified version of the PSLV with a cryogenic upper stage. However, since the Cryogenic Stage did not work out for the PSLV, hence the idea of the GSLV Mk I was dropped. Perumal was the Project Director for the PSLV and GSLV and later the Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC). I think I would trust this version.

Since there is no Mk I and all the flights of the GSLV are what ISRO called the Mk II project, it seems ISRO just dropped the Mk II and began calling the launch vehicle GSLV in 2017. This change is also seen on the ISRO website on the GSLV page from 2017.

The GSLV Mk III is a totally different project. I think the GSLV tag got attached to it only because it primarily delivers its payload to a geostationary transfer orbit.

Addendum – August 17, 2021

In response to this blog post @zingaroo replied on Twitter stating that ISRO had always called the GSLVs with the Russian cryogenic engines as the Mk-I and the ones with the Indian cryogenic engines as the Mk-II. He provided two examples of the same from the past.

He presents evidence from the magazine, SPACE-India April-June 2003, Page 11. Also from Gopal Raj’s book Reach for the Stars published in 2000.

It seems ISRO is also re-writing history in a way. It seems that the project started somewhere after 2010.

Does ISRO have any plans?

India’s space programme seems to be stuck in a rut.

India has three broad tracks in it’s space programme – satellites and launch vehicles programme for remote sensing, communications and navigation, planetary exploration and human spaceflight. We are trying to outsource the first to a private industry that is not prepared to handle the responsibility yet. The second is moving in slow motion. The third seems to be pushing really hard to achieve the unachievable. In the recently held, Global Space Exploration Conference 2021, Chairman, ISRO had this to say:

This is a statement that the media in India has run several times. Hence, his statement did not get any media coverage in India. ISRO is going through tough times with the spaceport under lockdown because of the large number of COVID-19 cases.

The United Arab Emirates seems to be having more ambitious planetary exploration plans than India at the moment. They are talking about two lunar missions, they have signed up for the Artemis accords and are planning to send the second astronaut to the ISS soon.

UAE has grown rich on an important natural resource, oil. This resource is limited on Earth. This has helped the nation learn important lessons in importance of natural resources for the development of the country. Hence, they want to be part of the space faring nations who get to decide how space resources are used just like OPEC controls crude oil prices on Earth.

India used to announce plans like this before. Before the Chandrayaan 1 launch, we spoke of landing humans on the Moon by 2020. While factors beyond ISRO’s control delayed the realization of these projects by years, it gave everyone a broad idea of where India was headed. Now, there is just silence in this regard.

Chairman, ISRO in his New Year message had said that the various centers had drawn up decadal plans but so far we have not seen any. When there is no action physically due to valid reasons, this is the right time to think of things. For example, China has been putting out studies about how to get humans to Mars. ISRO has been doing these studies but not publishing them.

The civilian space programme is not secretive. The idea is to use this programme to raise the morale of the workforce, inject excitement for science and commerce in the country and project India’s rising capability in the sector. This communication is an important task that is assigned to Chairman, ISRO.

A Difficult Task – Splitting ISRO and NSIL

me: I made an error in understanding this. I leave this here for record. But, I have corrected this on my newsletter.

I write a weekly newsletter on an Indian perspective to space stuff every Thursday. The edition that I sent out last Thursday (March 11) was a space policy edition.

I specifically covered a report tabled in the Rajya Sabha by the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change.

Department of Space Organisation Chart. Image: ISRO.

The Standing Committee asked DoS about the role of India’s space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the entrance of NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL). The Department replied stating that missions such as Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan and advanced technology mission would be carried on by ISRO and the rest would go to NSIL. This answer was presented to Parliament in February 2021. The Standing Committee published the report on 8 March 2021.

It is based on this answer that I said in the newsletter that:

This means that ISRO is going through a period of change as it commercializes parts of it’s operations (PSLV, GSLV, SSLV etc.) and focuses on research. This section thus marks a very important turning point in it’s journey. As shared in this PTI story, NSIL also has ambitions of building satellites and payloads. This would mean parts of works done in each center of ISRO will be commercialized and spun-off into NSIL.

Pradeep’s Space Newsletter #20

On 12 March 2021, NSIL held a press conference (NSIL press note). Here, they announced that they are planning to take over ISRO’s fleet of communications and remote sensing satellites.

I must admit I did not see the satellites bit coming. This is no small task. Managing such a fleet of satellites would need the kind of human resources and expertise that is currently only available at ISRO.

Splitting technical and human resources between ISRO and NSIL will be no small task. This is the turning point that I am referring to in the paragraph above.

DoS had put out a request for proposals (RFPs) from the industry to see if any single or a consortium of industries could develop PSLV for NSIL. This process, they claimed during the press conference will take 6 to 8 months.

This leaves the space sector with several players with them not yet knowing what they have to do. There is Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), Antrix Corporation, Space Commission and the Department of Space. The Government will have the task of putting them in order to make the sector boom. A difficult task.

ISRO Land, Challakere

Challakere is a town in Karnataka which is roughly 3.5 hour drive North East of Bengaluru. This is a place where a ₹2,700 crore plan to build India’s Human Space Flight Center (HSFC). This was where some of the tests for Chandrayaan 3 are being done.

Tender Notice to clear Bellary Jali

As usual, this news comes not from ISRO but from a tender notice posted on ISRO’s website. Based on this, I looked at the area on Google Maps. I found a few things that I shared on r/ISRO. As is usual, this is not a new discovery.

This is land allocated to ISRO in Science City. Hence, you can see the campuses for Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and even Bhaba Atomic Research Station (BARC).

Marked in blue is the ISRO Land, Chalakkere. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

You can also see the plans that were shared for the construction of this land here. Essentially, the land where we did these tests will be built over by the HSFC.

Chandrayaan-3 tests

Marked with blue arrows are craters created at ISRO Land where testing was done for Chandrayaan 2 and 3. Image credit: Pradeep Mohandas

These craters are for what are called the Lander Sensor Performance Test (LSPT). LSPT-1 and LSPT-2 were conducted for Chandrayaan-2. The tender is for clearing the green swathes that you see. It is apparently full of a shrub called Bellary Jali which needs to be cleaned up before tests for Chandrayaan-3 can be conducted.

Details of LSPT-1 and LSPT-2 were shared in Upagrah Apr-Jun 2017 issue (archived in Google Docs by u/Ohsin). This is the in-house magazine for U R Rao Satellite Center (URSC).

The test involves flying a Beechcraft Super King Air B-200 belonging to the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) over the craters made for the purpose. The plane flew from 500 m to 7 km in altitude to simulate various landing conditions. They also flew early in the morning to get the same lighting conditions as on the landing site on the Moon.

RLV Landing Experiment near Chitradurga

There was mention of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Landing Experiment at Chitradurga.

Snippet mentioning the RLV Landing Experiment in the ISRO Annual Report 2020-21.

Interesting term in the picture above is the pseudolite (pseudo-satellite).

While exploring the surrounding of Challakere, I spotted this, which could be a possible runway to which the RLV will glide and land on.

Possible RLV landing site near Chitradurga – Chitradurga Aeronautical Test Range belonging to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (ATR-DRDO). Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

This blog post is a small effort to read documents and share with you the possible rabbit holes. Following them is up to you.