India's space agency successfully launched and recovered RLV-TD, the country's first winged body aerospace vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime.
"The Big Ones", such as NASA, ULA, or SpaceX, are all trying to achieve the same - create a reusable spacecraft for future flights into space. Why is that so important? Reusable means more space missions at heavily reduced costs. India joined the efforts and created its first ever prototype of a reusable space shuttle with delta wings that was recently successfully tested. India Times writes that scientists at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) "believe that they could reduce the cost of launching stuff into space by as much as 10 times if reusable technology succeeds, bringing it down to $2,000 per kg."
On May 23 at 7am, the 'swadeshi' or indigenous space satellite launch vehicle (dubbed the Re-Usable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator or RLV-TD) was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. From the peak altitude of 65 km, RLV-TD began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). It safely landed while successfully gliding down to the defined landing spot in the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450km from Sriharikota. Total flight duration from launch to landing of the delta winged RLV-TD lasted for about 770 seconds in total.
The craft was only a seven meter long scale model, which is - according to India Times - "almost 6 times smaller than the intended final version, which will take at least 10-15 years to get ready." While it won't be carrying passengers into space very soon, it has proven that it's functional and safe, so India might be well on its way to becoming a space power to be reckoned with.