Aerospace start-up TeamIndus, which is gearing up to land the first private rover on the moon, has got thumbs up from an international panel of judges from the Google Lunar XPRIZE, saying the team has made ‘sustancial progress’ and was heading to the ‘right direction.
But, in order to move on, TeamIndus, founded by Rahul Narayan in 2011, says it needs to raise about Rs 225 crore before the launch of their lunar spacecraft and for this it is in talks with multiple sponsors and stakeholders.
“The total project costs Rs 450 crore and we have already collected half of the amount. For the other half of the amount, we are talking to various sponsors and will be able to raise this amount in the next 3 to 6 months,” Rahul Narayan, founder of TeamIndus, said. The company had secured three rounds of funding, with series A getting completed, he added.
Review of TeamIndus moon mission plan
The moon mission plan of TeamIndus was on Friday reviewed by an international panel of judges.
TeamIndus is the only Indian team competing for the $30 million (roughly Rs 196 crores) prize. 30 teams were selected as finalists and now five finalists are on track to compete its mission. TeamIndus is one of the 5 finalists.
"I think we have seen very substantial progress...They are heading in the right direction. However, I would say in space you always can expect the unexpected and this team has the ability to tackle the problems," Chairman of the panel Professor Alan Wells said.
The panel comprising of eminent space scientists and aerospace engineers are on a five-day review visit.
"We see this engineering review as well as the support from the panel as validation that we are on the right path. We will now be integrating the learning from the review into fine-tuning the mission in the days ahead," TeamIndus Fleet Commander Rahul Narayan said.
Narayan said that they were hopeful that the mission will be completed in next three to six months.
In response to a question on investments, Narayan said, "The total cost of the programme is expected to be around Rs. 450 crore, out which more than half has been collected and spent and for the rest talks are on with sponsors and others who are interested in spending on this mission."
About TeamIndus mission
TeamIndus will launch its spacecraft weighing 600 kg on board ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharihota. The spacecraft will be injected into an orbit 800 km above the surface of the Earth.
The spacecraft will also carry the 4kg Japanese rover belonging to its competitor Hakuto along with its own indigenously designed and developed robotic rover.
It will also carry a further payload of scientific experiments, including a student experiment being taken to the moon for free.
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The deadline for the completion of mission fixed by the Google Lunar XPRIZE is March 31 next year. The first launch window of the spacecraft is December 28, and after that there will be three-day windows every month, with a cutoff date of around the first week of March, if it is to meet the March 31 deadline.
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.
The five finalistsOther than TeamIndus (India), the other four finalist teams who have a verified launch contracts are SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (USA), Synergy Moon (International) and HAKUTO (Japan).
Team Indus, which is backed by the likes of Ratan Tata, Nandan Nilekani, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, has emerged as one of the five companies to be selected out of 29 teams which participated in the Lunar XPrize contest.
What is Google Lunar XPRIZE?
TeamIndus is in the fray for Google Lunar XPRIZE, also called the Moon 2.0, which is a competition organised by Google. Privately funded spaceflight teams from across the world were called to land a rover on moon before March 31, 2018. December 2017 was the earlier deadline to launch the spacecraft.
The winner team will land its rover on Moon and will also traverse 500 metre on the lunar surface. It also requires to send back high-definition pictures and videos from there. The winning team will be awarded $30 million.
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.
XPRIZE designs and implements innovative competition models in order to solve the grandest challenges in the world. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder
XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE.