Kolkata scientists to send four-kg payload along with TeamIndus rover to Moon next year

Bengaluru-based Indian startup TeamIndus has gained lot of fame after it announced that it will send a rover to the Moon in December 2017. After the partnership with the Japanese space startup Hakuta that will send 4 kg rover on TeamIndus spacecraft, now, Kolkata scientists are planning to send an instrument with spacecraft.

According to the latest reports, researchers in Kolkata have developed a payload that will share the ride with TeamIndus’s lunar rover and will land on the moon before the Republic Day of India.

“The four-kg payload would be installed atop a lunar lander that a Bengaluru-based private company Team Indus is planning to send to the moon in December 2017. We have signed a deal with Team Indus. The country’s trusted Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) engineered by India’s space agency ISRO would be carrying the lander and at least two rovers to the moon,” said Sandip Kumar Chakrabarti, Head of thade Indian Center for Space Physics in Kolkata.

The instrument will study outer space environment of the lunar surface. It is to be noticed that no one has previously studied outer space environment on the moon and it will be the first time. The spacecraft has sophisticated X-ray sensors and small but powerful computer to analyse the data.

TeamIndus has partnered with the Indian space agency ISRO which will launch the lunar probe using the PSLV rocket. While taking the private moon mission, every part of the mission is being completed by the TeamIndus except the launching which is being assisted by ISRO. As per the estimates, the mission will cost around $60 million. So far, the team has raised $15 million and they aim to raise remaining funds by September-October next year.

“The total expense of the project is about USD 60 million and we have raised USD 15 million so far. We will have to raise the remaining amount by September-October next year,” TeamIndus co-founder and Director Julius Amrit said.
Renowned personalities like Ratan Tata of the Tata Group; Sachin and Binny Bansal, co-founders of Flipkart and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd, have invested in the project. In addition, the TeamIndus which is backed by a team of hundred engineers is aiming to win $25 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

 

“The Moon is not only our nearest planetary neighbour, but it is also the gateway to the rest of the universe,” Google’s website describing the Lunar XPRIZE states. “The Moon provides exciting opportunities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, resource detection and utilisation, and human habitation.”

Google’s Lunar XPRIZE was started back in 2007 with a goal to involve private organisations in space missions and revisit landing site of Apollo 17. Google believes that space agencies like NASA and SpaceX are planning for Journey to Mars but studying Moon can help us in developing a better understanding of our universe.

The US space agency NASA started sending astronauts to the moon with Apollo missions starting in 1969. While Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon and Google wants to examine the site. In addition, Google has also announced an additional $5 million prize for the mission that makes further scientific discoveries after exploring the site.

Moreover, ISRO’s PSLV rocket will be used to lift the spacecraft. If successful, it will mark another milestone in Indian space history which will also motivate other private firms towards space mission. The PSLV will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 880 km x 70,000 km around the Earth. From there, the spacecraft will take another 21 days to land on Moon.

“India as a country is underestimated when it comes down to having a technology led firm … it is time, India is seen from a different perspective on the global platform,” said Dhruv Batra who manages product delivery for the startup.

“We can be profitable in this mission. We are making a fair amount of money but investing more than what we are making right now,” said Julius Amrit, director, TeamIndus
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