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S Somanath, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said on Thursday that a statement regarding the testing facilities for the hypersonic air breathing vehicle (HAVA) being used by the space agency will be released shortly. The space scientist, however, adds that because ISRO intends to focus more on space, it was not concerned with air breathing equipment.

Jet engines are examples of air-breathing engines, which draw air from their surrounds to burn fuel. As there is no air or atmosphere in space, it is not appropriate for space travel. “We are also creating the ‘HAVA’ rocket, which will fly for more than 200 seconds at hypersonic speed. You will soon hear information regarding our testing facility for the new air-breathing fuel as well, Somanath promised reporters.

Hypersonic Air Breathing Vehicle with Air Integration System is referred to as a “HAVA.” In response to a question on the development of oxygen breathing technology, Somanath stated that ISRO is viewing it as a technology capacity rather than an immediate input for any rocket.

“If there is air there, that is not space,” Somanath said. Because we want to go to space rather than live in the air, ISRO is not very interested in air breathing technology. However, we develop the technology because it is really advanced in terms of our capabilities, such as combustion, etc. So, the engine is being tested.

We have created a hypersonic test facility at our Mahendragiri plant, where we are currently conducting tests,” he continued. Somanath stated that ISRO is designing an architectural rocket for the new generation launch vehicles (NGLV), and a large team from many centres is working on it. The team has released a preliminary report on what this rocket should look like, what technical inputs are needed, what techniques we should take, where we should manufacture it, and more. It should have some reusability. We ought to employ propulsion and engines of the newest generation.

In response to a query, Somanath ruled out any reliance on cryogenic engines by Russia. “Our cryogenic engines are not reliant on Russia. By this point, it is all Indian. Possibly for fifteen years. We are not reliant on Russian supplies or components in any way. Everything we had ordered from Russia has been replaced with identical components from India. It is finished,” he declared.

According to the ISRO chairman, a new indigenously produced engine named C-25 was developed in ISRO as a result of Russian assistance, and he, as Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), qualified and launched it numerous times. According to Somanath, ISRO is creating a semi-cryogenic engine to replace the LVM-3, also known as the Launch Vehicle Mark-III or GSLV MK-III, which was formerly known as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III.

He claims that ISRO has been working on a 200-tonne engine for the previous 15 years. The first powerhead has now been attained by this engine. The assembling is already complete. A sizable testing facility has been built. We installed it, performed the first-ever propellant feed into it, and it was only recently commissioned (sic). It’s currently successful, the ISRO director remarked.

The first engine firing will occur in a few days, he continued, and that will be followed by six to seven tests that will occur every two weeks under various circumstances. The next step will be to work on the hardware if the tests are successful, according to Somanath.

He added that ISRO had originally intended to conduct the experiments in Russia and Ukraine because those countries had the necessary infrastructure, but that due to the ongoing conflict, those places are no longer accessible. Somanath added, “Now the geopolitical situation does not allow us to go there,” adding that this forced the space agency to speed up the building of such a facility in India. He continued, “I am pleased that the industry is helping us so strongly in the construction of a major facility, which has just been commissioned.

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