Team Indus, a Bangalore-based space startup has bagged a victory in the first-leg of the Google Lunar Xprize and was awarded a $1 million funding. It will be India’s first privately funded space mission.
The rover weighing 20 Kgs will be able to carry a 250-gram payload, and is said to launch by July 2017. Rahul Narayan, CEO Team Indus said that it took them five years to conceptualize the project, and they were the only Indian team participating.
ISRO’s facility, Sriharikota Space Centre will be utilized for the launch and their scientists will also help the startup with their expertise to materialize the project that is worth over $60 million.
The mission is seeking public opinion on what payload could and should be sent on board the rover. Team Indus has also launched an event “Lab 2 Moon” to encourage students aged 14-25 for the same.
The Google Lunar Xprize competition was created in 2007 with the idea to give incentives to space entrepreneurs to create access to the Moon and beyond at a relatively low cost (financially and otherwise). The prize money is a total of $30 million, and will be awarded to teams that can land a privately funded rover on the moon, do travel of 500 meters, and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.
The first team to successfully complete the mission will receive $20 million while the second will get $5 million. This means that the remaining $5 million have been given to the qualifying teams (including Team Indus).
Team Indus isn’t the only one on this space voyage, but it sure looks like one of the strongest contenders. ISRO’s unparalleled expertise in the field will be of illimitable help to them. The timeline fixed by the space startup also looks quite challenging, yet promising.