TeamIndus, a private Bengaluru-based company, was formed by a group of friends in December 2010 in response to the Google Lunar XPrize — a challenge for entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods to explore space. On finding out that there were no participants from the country in the Google-sponsored competition, the team registered to become India’s sole entry. The team, led by entrepreneur Rahul Narayan, comprises around 100 members.
TeamIndus has been creating a low-cost spacecraft, which is 2 metres in height and 600 kgs in weight and will run on 240 watts of solar power and a 28 V 24 A hour battery. It’s mission to the moon is expected to last 24 Earth days — 10 days in orbit and 14 on the moon — and cover a distance of 3,84,400 kilometres. The team has already won a $1 million prize from Google as part of the competition.
It has signed up with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to launch its vehicle from Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to land on the moon’s surface. It will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota this year.
There are reports, however, that TeamIndus’s contract with ISRO has fallen through.
The project is expected to cost TeamIndus somewhere around $70 million, from building the spacecraft to its launch. It has received funding from several investors including Ratan Tata, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, TVS Group’s Venu Srinivasan and stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.
The contest was announced in 2007. The winner will be rewarded a $20 million prize. For a team to win, its spacecraft must land on the moon, travel at least 500 metres on the surface, and transmit high definition pictures and videos back to the earth.
Narayan has personally explained the mission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in return extended his blessings to the team, reported PTI.
Besides TeamIndus, other participants in the competition include Japanese team Hakuto, SpaceIL of Israel, Moon Express from the US and Synergy Moon, which is an international collaboration.
(With inputs from PTI)