Domestic space technology startup TeamIndus on Thursday signed a first-of-its-kind contract with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to send a TeamIndus robot to the Moon.
TeamIndus will launch its Moon-bound robot aboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in late 2017, the company said in a statement.
The contract is an attempt to win the “Google Lunar XPRIZE”, a competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.
TeamIndus is the only Indian team competing for the $30 million “Google Lunar XPRIZE.” This will be the first time ISRO has given a dedicated PSLV to any private entity.
“The launch contract reaffirms our mission as a truly Indian mission where the best of India’s public and private enterprises have come together to realise a common dream. Programmes like these are a testimony to the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the increasingly competitive world of new space companies,” said Rahul Narayan, TeamIndus’ Fleet Commander, in a statement.
“Google Lunar XPRIZE” requires privately funded teams to land their rovers on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 metres and broadcast high-definition video, images and data back to Earth.
“In a launch window starting on 28th of December, 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 North-Western hemisphere of the Moon,” the statement added.
After landing, the spacecraft will deploy all its payload including the TeamIndus rover that will traverse 500 metres on the Moon’s surface in order to accomplish its “Google Lunar XPRIZE” objectives.
TeamIndus’ rover has been designed and developed in Bengaluru by a 100-person engineering team including 20 retired ISRO scientists.