Bengaluru-based startup, Team Indus is now the first official entry from India for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a space competition organized by XPRIZE. The group of co-founders of Team Indus will design and develop a spacecraft to be sent to the moon. Team Indus has signed a verified launch contract with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for its mission. Till now, Team Indus have been funded with $15 million and they have designed a spacecraft and has also announced a launching window.
The challenge, sponsored by Google, will feature various spaceflight teams from around the world for a race to be the first one to land a robotic spacecraft on the surface of Moon, travel for around 500 meters and should be able to send High Definition video and images. Last year XPRIZE announced that they will consider to extend the deadline till December 2017 if atleast one team could secure launch contract. Deadline was extended as two teams successfully attained the contract. Till this year’s ending, a total of 16 teams have registered for the contest and out of them 4 are possessing the launch contract for 2017. SpaceIL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon and Team Indus have verified contracts with SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Interorbital Systems and ISRO respectively.
The journey is scheduled to commence on December 28, 2017 and as for the Team Indus spacecraft, PSLV (Polar Satelite Launch Vehicle) will inject the spacecraft into the orbit around The Earth where the spacecraft will go on for a 21-day journey to land on the north-western hemisphere of The Moon. The dream of reaching out to The Moon was seen by a group of 6-7 friends in 2010 and they registered for the contest on December 31, 2010. However, the company Team Indus was formed in May 2011. An angel investor invested a certain amount for the startup funding and the company grew and started showing practical visions and ideas, more investors started showing their interest.
Some famous businessmen have shown interest in the company for investing their money, like Sachin and Binny Bansal, founders of Flipkart, Ratan Tata of Tata Group and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd. Automobile Designer Dilip Chhabria is also connected to the startup as their Marketing Lead. The estimated funding required for one team is predicted to be around $60 million. Team Indus has been successful in collecting $15 million and they are optimistic about collecting another $45 million.
If this spaceflight by Team Indus will be a success then ISRO will take advantage of this technology and use it in the development of Chandrayaan-2. It will be ISRO’s second mission to The Moon after the first took place in 2008. The prize money for the contest is set at $20 million and $5 million prize for the team whose technology will help in further projects related to same.As of now, Team Indus consists of around 100 scientists and engineers including few former ISRO scientists. It is a bright chance for India to be become the fourth nation to land on the surface of The Moon after U.S, Russia and China.