In a first of its kind attempt, ISRO’s PSLV rocket will take off with two rovers for the moon. TeamIndus, a Bengaluru-based startup will send its ‘homemade’ spacecraft to luna. Japanese team Hakuto’s rover will be housed commercially, along with a Japanese rover Moonraker and TeamIndus’s own rover Eca (‘eeka’). The rovers will be deployed on the satellite as soon the Spacecraft will dock, which is expected by January 2018.
ISRO (Indian Space and Research Organisation) using its PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) will send the spacecraft, having two rovers onboard, into space. This is another milestone in history when ISRO has joined hands with TeamIndus for a commercial launch contract in becoming the only or first private entity to attempt touchdown on the moon. The effort has been sponsored by Google and Team HAKUTO and TeamIndus are its part for $30-million Lunar Xprize, making it a largest incentive-based competition in the world.
A blend of delight and dismay was seen at the announcement as TeamIndus will be tagging its competition along. However, it is still unclear how events will unfold post landing. Google’s Senior director Chanda Gonzales Mowrer said that they proudly verified Hakuto’s launch agreement and are charmed to see two Google Xprize teams colluding on the mission to the moon. Furthermore, the idea was to encourage private sector collaboration.
Other than Hakuto and TeamIndus, there are other clubs trying to put their name as winners. Before that, all teams will have to verify the launch agreement with Google by the end of 2016. Israel’s SpacIL will aim to win in their SpaceX Falcon 9 while Moon Express of the United States will try to seize the trophy on their Electron Rocket by Rocket Lab. With an International collaboration, Synergy Moon will put efforts in their Interorbital Systems Neptune 8.
The Five teams will make their attempts in 2017. To win the contest, the privately funded teams will have to soft land its rover and send 500m away from the spacecraft and beam high definition media back to earth. Israel’s SpaceIL will try a different and unique approach ‘lunar hop’ as the rover will take off from the moon’s surface and land 500m apart.
As the goal of the tournament is to send high-resolution images to earth post traveling the fixed distance. The Rover will send the data to spacecraft and the spacecraft will relay it to the earth. Whether team Hakuto’s rover will use TeamIndus’s Spacecraft for communication or not is yet to see. The weight of the spacecraft is expected around 600kgs consisting the fuel and payload.
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