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Indian startup Team Indus could be the first private company to land rover on the moon

Shweta Sengar | Updated on: 3 December 2016, 10:53 IST

Team Indus is on its way to send a rover to the moon. And with this development, the company might achieve the feat to become the first private entity to land on the moon. Rahul Narayan, an IIT alumnus from Delhi, co-founded Team Indus, a for-profit organisation. His LinkedIn account outlines - TeamIndus is a Top-3 team @Google Lunar XPrize, a privately funded effort to build & land a Spacecraft on the Moon by December 2017.

The company has secured a ride with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to send a rover to the moon next year. It is one of the 16 teams that are in the race for the Google Lunar Xprize challenge, making it the only Indian team in the race. The Google Lunar Xprize invited private companies to land a rover on the moon, cover a distance of 500 metres and send HD photographs and videos back to Earth. The winner will win $20 million for the mission if the rover can successfully carry out these operations.

Team Indus was the last team to register in the competition. The Lunar X-Prize shortlisted Team Indus for the challenge and they won $1 million towards landing technology.

Narayan was intrigued by the Google-funded competition and decided to participate, becoming the only Indian team to do so.

"We were looking and saying that if any Indian team is doing this we got to be a part of this. Whether building software or doing marketing, this is the project of a lifetime," Narayan told Mashable two months ago at the Team Indus campus in Bangalore.

From helping out in marketing strategies to scouring Wikipedia for how to build a spacecraft, they did it all.

When will Team Indus land a rover on the moon?

On Thursday, Team Indus announced that they have secured a dedicated rocket from government-funded ISRO to send the rover.

If everything goes as per the plan, the rover manufactured by Team Indus will be mounted on ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) during a three-day launch window beginning 28 December 2016.

The PSLV will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 880 km x 70,000 km around the Earth. The spacecraft will then begin its 21-day journey and land in the Mare Imbrium, a region in the North-Western hemisphere of the moon.

What about funding?

The company has since then raised funds from private entrprenuers like Ratan Tata of Tata Group, Flipkart co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Nandan Nilekani, co-founder Infosys, and many more. With this, Team Indus has raised a total equity of $15 million so far; however, they aim to raise $60 million for the mission.

The rules of the Lunar X-Prize say that 90% of the mission must be funded by private companies.

When is the launch?

So far, out of 16 teams, four - SpaceIL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon and Team Indus - have secured the launch contracts.

Israeli team, SpaceIL secured the contract in October 2015 with Rocket Lab's Electron rockets and is also scheduled for launch in 2017.

America's Moon Express won the contract with Rocket Lab's Electron rockets and the launch is scheduled for 2017.

An international team Synergy Systems is the third to secure a launch vehicle and like others, it is also scheduled to land a rover on the moon in 2017.

India's Team Indus will also join its counterparts on the moon in 2017.

So folks, the moon is going to be very busy in 2017.

Catch called Team Indus to secure more details about the project but could not get in touch with Narayan due to his hectic travel schedule.

First published: 3 December 2016, 10:53 IST
 
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