Indian rocket scientists have designed a space plane, dubbed The Avatar (Aerobic Vehicle for Hypersonic Aerospace Transportation), which is planned to be used for launching satellites. The Avatar weighs just 25 tonnes a bulk of which comprises the liquid hydrogen fuel. A unique feature of this spacecraft is that it does not carry an oxidizer like the conventional expendable rockets in a storage device, but liquid oxygen is produced and stored during the initial hour long cruise through the atmosphere. The plane is capable of reaching a speed of around 8 Machs or more. It is capable of reaching a 100 kilometer orbit in a single stage and can launch satellites weighing one tonne. The plane takes off like any conventional aircraft. Avatar will use a combination of turbofan, ramjet and scramjet engines to reach the intended attitude of 10 kilometers before a cryogenic rocket engine takes over for the final thrust into space. Once the mission is over, the plane de-orbits and re-enters earth's atmosphere negotiating the dense atmospheric regime and lands on its own power. This amazing space plane can perform around 100 such missions at a fraction of the cost of a similar plane being developed by western nations, Japan and China.
Apart from lifting satellites, which the versatile PSLV and the technologically advanced GSLV is capable of, the Avatar will be used primarily to transport passengers, who do not need special training like the regular cosmonauts. The concepts used in the Avatar has been mathematically proven and an engineering design has emerged, but India will not be able to build the Avatar alone and that international cooperation for both finance and technology is inevitable if Avatar is to become a reality.