Aerospace start-up TeamIndus has emerged as one of the top finalists in the Google Lunar XPrize (GLXP) contest that has called for privately funded spaceflight teams across the world to land a rover on the moon before March 31, 2018.
TeamIndus is one of the five finalists, other than SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (USA), Synergy Moon (International) and HAKUTO (Japan), in the race to win $30 million prize .
“We took a detailed look at the mission plan and the methodologies being employed to gauge the progress of the Lunar Mission. We are completely satisfied with the readiness and transparency that TeamIndus showcased here. They are clearly on the right trajectory to make history” said Prof. Alon Wells, Chairman of the Xprize Judges’ Panel who reviewed the TeamIndus preparations at its Bengaluru facility.
TeamIndus was previously awarded $1 Mn for successfully demonstrating the soft landing milestone; however, the team had earlier failed to achieve the mobility milestone within the set time frame.
The Bengaluru-based firm has over 100 engineers and 20 former ISRO scientists working on the spacecraft’s design and technology. This will be the first time ISRO has given a dedicated PSLV to any private entity.
“The total project costs Rs 450 crore and we have already collected half the amount. For the remaining Rs 225 crore, we are talking to various sponsors and will be able to raise this amount in the next 3 to 6 months,” said Rahul Narayan, founder of TeamIndus.
He added that the company has secured a total amount of $35 million in three rounds of funding from a clutch of investors, including Subrata Mitra & Shekhar Kirani of Accel Partners, Sharad Sharma former Yahoo India R&D head, Vivek Raghavan, chief product manager of UIDAI, Pallaw Sharma director of analytics at Microsoft and serial entrepreneur Bala Parthasarthy among others.
At their Bengaluru headquarters, the team showcased mission readiness of the spacecraft, its operations and control, launch verification, soft landing, 500 meters mobility verification and mission complete mooncast milestones.
After a series of complex orbital manoeuvres, the spacecraft which is 2 metre tall and weighs 600 Kg will have to attain a maximum speed of 10.5kms/s for a soft landing. TeamIndus’s rover ECA once released onto the lunar surface will transmit high definition images to Earth. The total duration of the mission is expected to be for 30 to 40 days.