New Delhi: Indian space exploration company TeamIndus on Thursday said the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will provide a dedicated launch vehicle to put its payload on the moon in the race for the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize. The launch is expected to take place in December 2017 from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
TeamIndus is the only Asian team left in the competition to land a rover on the moon.
The commercial collaboration with Isro burnishes the credentials of TeamIndus in the last stages of the competition, on for about seven years now. One of the prerequisites was to have a formal launch contract in place that would be ratified by the XPrize team.
“The heft of scientific legacy that Isro has created over decades is one of the reasons why we started out on this journey, and this launch contract reaffirms our mission,” said Rahul Narayan, founder and head of TeamIndus.
In order to win the prize, privately funded teams must land their spacecraft on the surface of the moon, travel 500 metres, and broadcast high-definition video, images and data back to earth. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will inject the spacecraft into orbit, which will then undertake a 21-day journey to soft-land in Mare Imbrium, a region in the north-western hemisphere of the moon.
“We are delighted to officially verify TeamIndus’ launch contract. This is a notable achievement for TeamIndus and we are proud to have one more team make it into the final stretch of the competition,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director, Google Lunar XPrize.
The backers of TeamIndus include Ratan Tata, the interim chairman of the Tata group, Rajiv Mody, chairman, Sasken Communications, Flipkart co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, TVS Group chairman Venu Srinivasan and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd.
TeamIndus has raised $15 million from dozens of investors, and plans to raise around $20 million more by renting out payload space and commercial tie-ups; it plans to raise a further $20 million through crowdfunding.