The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is inching closer towards its Human Space Mission. It is test launching a version of its Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) later this year, following a successful test of the crew module last year. The agency has already transported and positioned boosters for the launch expected in second half of this year. It will begin assembling the vehicle in 8-10 weeks. “The launch was to happen sometime in mid-2015, but there’s been a delay as we decided to complete our commercial launches first,” a senior ISRO official said. With the crew module recovery tests done, the next crucial test will be to test the RLV-TD for the Hypersonic Experiment Mission-01 (HEX-01). “As with the crew module test, there’ll be no people aboard this vehicle. We will test the technology, which has been worked upon for over half-a-decade,” an ISRO spokesperson said. The UPA-led government had sanctioned Rs 145 crore for the Human Space Mission. The RLV-TD is a major step towards realising this programme, mooted to begin in 2017. The objective is to carry a two-member crew to Low Earth Orbit and return them safely. The winged RLV-TD has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies like hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and flight using air breathing propulsion. As part of the pre-project activities, ISRO is focusing on the development of critical technologies for subsystems such as Crew Module, Environmental control and Life Support System, Crew Escape System and so on. Many of these are already complete. Eventually, ISRO will have to use the GSLV platform, which is yet to completely gain the confidence of the agency.