Team Indus and Japan’s Hakuto are preparing to get their Rovers on the ISRO-built spacecraft which is scheduled to launch in December. Communication tests of their rover with the Indian spacecraft will start by next week.
A year ago, Team Indus and Japan’s Hakuto decided to collaborate in the Google Lunar XPrize competition. They are now gearing up to put their rovers on the ISRO-built spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch in December.
It is to the Indian team’s credit that the Japanese team, which doesn’t have a PSLV contract, will be sending their rover with Team Indus.
Japan’s 100-member team Hakuto is on a two-day visit to Bengaluru. Tomoya Mori, who is a member of team Hakuto said, “Japanese launchers are very expensive, we are a private team and were looking for a cost effective launch opportunity. Since we needed a spacecraft, we asked Team Indus to collaborate with us”. The team will start communication tests of their rover with the Indian spacecraft by next week.
Japan’s Hakuto believes India’s Space launch is extremely cost-effective as compared to Japanese launchers.
The total amount required for the project by India’s Team is estimated to be $60 million; Team Indus has raised almost half of it. “We begin integrations and assembly of the flight model in October and complete it in six weeks. There is significant amount of fund raising that we have to do, which has been moving relatively slower than the engineering”, said Team Indus lead, Rahul Narayan. The engineering for the project is complete, he confirmed.
Team Indus is a Bengaluru-based startup which is the only team from India taking part in the “Moon 2.0” challenge.
Japan’s ambassador, Kenji Hiramatsu also joined Japan’s team on their visit to Bengaluru, India, at the facility of Team Indus. He said that Japanese companies are very much interested in Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem and Tumkur, which is considered as one of the industrial cities located in the state of Karnataka. “There is a special interest in Japanese companies to invest more in startups. We are looking forward to having more pitching events,” he said.
The deadline of Google Lunar XPrize competition was recently extended to March 2018. Five participants remain in the race, including Team Indus (India), HAKUTO (Japan), SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (US) and Synergy Moon, an international group of scientists and engineers. This is down from the 30-odd that had signed up initially.
What is Google Lunar XPrize Competition?
Google Lunar XPrize is an unprecedented competition, definitely one of a kind. The competition is designed to challenge and inspire engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The competition holds a total of $30 million as prize money.
The steps all challengers need to conquer are, to:
- Successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface.
- Travel 500 meters.
- Transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.
Google is offering $20 million to the first team to pull it off, $5 million to the second team, and $5 million for a unique scientific achievement.