Three teams from India – Team Callisto, Ears and Kalpana have been chosen for India’s first ever private moon mission along with four other teams – Space4Life from Italy, Lunadome from Britain, Killa Lab from Peru and Regolith Revolution from the US. All of these participants will fly to the lunar surface in the TeamIndus spacecraft.
The TeamIndus spacecraft (robot) will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh. TeamIndus is the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The 30 million USD Google Lunar XPRIZE is a global competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.
While the Italian Space4Life will send an experiment to test the effectiveness of using a colony of cyanobacteria as a shield against harmful radiation in space, the Indian team is proposing to explore photosynthesis on the moon.
An international jury comprising former ISRO chief Dr. K Kasturirangan, Dr. Alain Bensoussan, Former President of Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, examined the prototypes of these experiments in granular detail.
According to Sheelika Ravishankar from TeamIndus , “these experiments could revolutionize the future of humanity. The sheer quality of the teams has compelled us to explore the possibility of a further six experiments joining us aboard the Spacecraft. There has been growing interest from corporates to partner with us in fostering such quantum jumps for humanity.”
The global challenge Lab2Moon initiated by TeamIndus in mid-2016 is aimed to launch low cost robots for space exploration, in which 3000 teams around the world sent ideas for experiments.
The launch is scheduled on December 28 with PSLV to inject the spacecraft into an orbit 880 km x 70,000 km around the earth. During this moon mission the spacecraft will take a 21-day journey to soft land in Mare Imbrium, a region in the North-Western hemisphere of the Moon.
After landing, the spacecraft will deploy its payload, including the TeamIndus rover, which is designed and developed by team of 100 engineers from Bengaluru that includes 20 retired Indian space scientist .
Much like the American Space-X, this moon mission will help India join the elite club of nations having a capability to launch a private moon mission.
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