Bangalore-based space startup Team Indus has signed a launch services agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to source India’s highly reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV, to send a rover to the moon as part of its bid to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE.
Google Lunar XPRIZE is a coveted challenge and inspires global engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The competition offers a $20 million cash prize and Team Indus is the only Indian team in the competition which is aiming to build the spacecraft by 2017.
“What gave us confidence to dream big when we started on this journey many years back was the heft of the scientific legacy that India, with ISRO, created over decades. This launch contract reaffirms our mission as a truly Indian mission where the best of India’s public and private enterprises have come together to realize a common dream,” Rahul Narayan, TeamIndus’ fleet commander said.
“In a launch window starting on Dec. 28, 2017, the PSLV will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 880 km x 70,000 km around the Earth. The spacecraft will then undertake a 21-day journey to soft land in Mare Imbrium, a region in the northwestern hemisphere of the Moon.”
“After landing in Mare Imbrium, the spacecraft will deploy all its payload including the TeamIndus Rover that will traverse 500 meters on the lunar surface in order to accomplish its Google Lunar XPRIZE objectives.”
If everything goes as planned for Team Indus, it would make India, the fourth country to land on the moon after the US, Russia and China and would also make the company, the first privately-held firm to place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface.