Team Indus, the only team in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, has roped in Ratan Tata along with Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, and TVS Group Chairman Venu Srinivasan to become its latest backers. As you are aware Team Indus is one of the five teams which has been selected to take part in the Milestone prizes and successfully won $1M as a Milestone prize for its landing technology, last year. It has completed the feasibility plans to build a privately funded spacecraft which is capable of soft landing on the Moon by 2017.
The Team Indus effort may seem audacious, but it has everything which is synonymous with India. Its space agency ISRO was able to send an orbiter to Mars at a price which was less than the budget of an average Hollywood flick. The Indus Mission is led by a group of bright engineers with the breed of world-class entrepreneurs who have an unflinching belief in the feasibility of mission.
The turn of events in 2016 has made the chances of making to the Moon much brighter. With one of the highest number of highly qualified engineers, the country has reached a stage where the new breed of highly qualified technocrats will have not to turn to the west for fulfilling their ambitions and aspirations. It must be pertinent to say that the group is getting generous help from the ISRO engineers.
One such retired ISRO scientist is V Adimurthy who came to the Team Indus office. He was instrumental in handling the mathematical aspects of ISRO missions for almost four decades and has oceans of knowledge and experience. His calculations were the basis of the moon and Mars missions, and he still provides significant intellectual inputs for ISRO missions. The Indus Team won the Google prize but had no experience in Space launches. They, however, had a framework of the technical aspect of their mission. After a review, Adimurthy was not sure about the propulsion systems which were similar to those used by ISRO for its Mars and Moon missions.
Adi ruled that though the propulsion system was good for ISRO but far too heavy for the small satellites of Team Indus. The aim was also something which was never planned by ISRO till now- land a spacecraft on the moon.
The Indus team took it as a challenge and redesigned their propulsion system and this time Adimurthy gave his approval, and now it is only a matter of execution. By the time he did the third review, everything was moving in the right direction. The propulsion system was good, and the commercial sources were also well chosen.