New Delhi: A Bangalore-based space startup, Team Indus, has won the first leg of the Google Lunar Xprize and received $1 million funding for what will be India’s first privately-funded space mission.
The group of space entrepreneurs plan to launch a rover by July 2017 which will land on the surface of Moon in nearly 20 days. The rover weighing 20kgs, will be able to carry a 250 gram payload.
"It took us five years to conceptualise the project. Since there was no Indian company participating in the Google competition, we decided to take the lead," Rahul Narayan, CEO Team Indus said.
Team Indus has planned to launch the rover from the Sriharikota space centre with the help of ISRO whose former scientists are also providing their expertise for the first-ever privately funded mission. The entire project is worth over $60 million.
What makes the private space mission special is that it is seeking public opinion on what payload could be sent with the rover. Team Indus has launched an event ‘Lab 2 Moon’ asking students aged 14-25 years to come up with suggestions for a 250 gram payload that can be sent along with the parent rover.
The Google Lunar Xprize competition was created in 2007 with the idea to incentivise space entrepreneurs to create affordable access to the Moon and beyond. The prize money of $30 million will be awarded to teams who are able to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images.
The first team that successfully completes the mission will be awarded the $20 million while the second team will be awarded $5 million.
Team Indus, therefore, isn’t the only team battling out in the space voyage race but it hopes to be the first among the competitors to land on the Moon and win the final amount of $20 million.