TeamIndus Foundation’s Space on Wheels named ‘Moonshot Wheels’ has been launched by Tata Group patriarch Ratan Tata. Moonshot Wheels is a bus which aims to inspire the next-gen about India’s first private moon mission.
TeamIndus Foundation is the CSR arm of TeamIndus, which is the only Indian team contesting for the Google Lunar XPRIZE worth $25 million. TeamIndus has also made it to the top five finalists of the Google Lunar XPRIZE.
The contestants are required to land their spacecraft on the surface of the moon, travel 500 metres and broadcast high definition video, pictures and data back to Earth.
The Moonshot Wheels will traverse nine states, 12,500 kms in 12 months, across India. It will impact over 36,000 students in government schools, the foundation officials said.
The bus will carry 6 science experiments, live satellite tracking, moon rover, spacecraft-scaled model and an experience zone, they said.
TeamIndus Foundation has curated and administered this programme, while Agastya International Foundation has done the on ground implementation.
Agastya International Foundation has been dedicated to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) alive for children.
Tata, Nandan Nilekani (Infosys), Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (Flipkart) and Venu Srinivasan (TVS Group), K Kasturirangan (former ISRO chief) among others are supporting TeamIndus as its advisers.
Tata did not commented on the initiative during the launch of the bus. However, Kasturirangan lauded the efforts, calling it “great work” and a fantastic initiative”. “They are up to a big experiment, a very ambitious experiment-carrying out a lunar mission.”
“What is interesting about these youngsters is besides being adventurous and excited about that mission, they are using the opportunity to spread the message among the still younger generation so that there is no disconnect,” he said.
Asked about the landing mission coming ahead of ISRO’s second moon mission (Chandrayaan-2) he said, “I’m a neutral man, I’m an Indian and proud of any good things that happen in the country. Don’t make distinction between ISRO or non-ISRO efforts, to me ultimately what succeeds is good for the country and we are all proud of it.”
Giving details on ‘Moonshot Wheels’ initiative, Priyanka Narayan, chief functionary of the foundation, said each child will get an opportunity to experience and understand the making of a Space Mission and its underlying technologies.
They will interact with rocket scientists as well as the rest of the team behind India’s first private Moon Mission, she said.
(With inputs from PTI)