Being the sole Indian entry in the $ 30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, TeamIndus, a Bengaluru-based start up is aiming at the moon. The start up has over 85 engineers and more than 15 former ISRO scientists who are working hard to develop a lunar landing spacecraft within the Indian design and development infrastructure.
The team at this start up is aiming at a December 2017 launch to win this prize. In order to win the $ 30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at least 500 metres and transmits high-definition video and images back to earth. The condition is that the participating team should be at least 90 percent privately funded.
The mission of this start up seems to be on the right track. By demonstrating its landing technology, the team has already won a $1 million milestone prize which places it amongst the top-3 teams in the competition.
“We were successful in the vibration test as we met the specifications of the launch vehicle. We were also successful in the drop test as our landing gear is designed in such a way that the loads on the subsystems are not greater than that faced at launch. Our goal was to measure friction between the piston and cylinder in the landing gear, how efficiently the foam or honeycomb is crushed and ensure that the stresses on landing gear is within limits,” Sheelika Ravishankar, head, marketing and outreach, TeamIndus told THE WEEK.
Ever since its inception, this start up has received support from different people in their individual capacities. Among them are former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilkeani and former ISRO chairman Dr K. Kasturirangan. “The road ahead is still challenging as we still have to raise funds primarily to pay for the launch vehicle and to develop the spacecraft,” adds Ravishankar.
TeamIndus has recently launched Lab2Moon, a global challenge for youngsters to send an experiment to the moon on board the TeamIndus spacecraft. It is a global challenge wherein youngsters under 25 years will need to imagine, design and build a project that would catalyse the evolution of mankind as a sustainable multi-planetary species. Teams of up to three members will share their ideas in the form of a concept note and video. Twenty short-listed teams will build prototypes and will be flown to Bangalore to showcase to the jury. The winning project is expected to be declared in February, 2017. TeamIndus has roped in a jury of experts for this which includes Dr K. Kasturirangan, Dr Alain Bensoussan, former president of CNES (French space agency) and former chairman of council, ESA (European Space Agency) and Dr. Joe Pelton, former dean of the International Space University (ISU).