Team Indus-Lunar XPrize
A rover designed by Bengaluru-based Team Indus, India’s entrant into the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, is in the final development stages before its flight to the moon next year
The goal of the Google Lunar XPRIZE is simple, land a rover on the moon, travel 500 metres and beam back high-definition video and images back to Earth.Despite being up against teams from the United States and Israel, Rahul radiates a quiet sense of confidence when he talks about the progress Team Indus has achieved.”We’re pretty much done with the engineering phase and are now working on execution. We’ve managed to create a unique low cost, low payload configuration, which we hope will go on to redefine what was though possible in India. We hope it will also have a huge impact on the engineering ecosystem in India.”
Indus, which has already won a milestone prize for progress made and is now poised to be among the final few in the running thanks to a recently acquired launch contract with ISRO, has benefited a lot from being based out of Bengaluru. “The Indian aerospace ecosystem has evolved around Bengaluru, be it ISRO, HAL or more. And when you have a big manufacturer, you find their suppliers located close by. Similarly, with ISRO being in Bengaluru, you find a cluster of the same sort here. Also, the Silicon Valley kind of culture that the city embodies has also been a big enabling factor,” says Rahul.
The XPRIZE the deadline for which is now set for December 2017, offers a significant payout to the winners who achieve the criteria mentioned earlier, but for Rahul, the big takeaway is the impact their work has on the engineering ecosystem in the country.”People who’ve worked big projects at large aerospace agencies have been positive about this new programme, and smaller private teams like us help push the envelope, disrupt the industry and take things forward'” Rahul explains, talking about the role of private companies like SpaceX in the future of space exploration.
Elaborating on space exploration in general, Rahul explains that mankind’s curiosity will push for exploration of new frontiers, and India is well-poised to be at the forefront of the movement. “A lot of great companies have come up in India, and they’re trying to solve small parts of big problems. India is set up to play an important role in the global space industry.”At the end of a conversation with Rahul, it is hard not to share his same optimism for the project. If all goes well, in a year from now, the wheels designed by the guys in Bengaluru will etch India’s space research pedigree across the lunar surface.