Indian startup to launch moon mission in 2018

NewDelhi,Dec2:An Indian aerospace startup has said that it will launch its mission to the moon in a year’s time, as it takes part in a Google-funded competition to become the world’s first-ever privately-held company to make a soft landing on the planet.

A group of more than 100 scientists and engineers, including around a dozen former ISRO scientists make up Axiom Research Labs’ Team Indus. The team is India’s only entry in the Google-funded Lunar XPrize challenge which has a bounty of $30 million.To win the prize, a team has to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface, travel at least 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to earth.

“A full launch vehicle from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) will launch our spacecraft into the orbit of the moon end of 2017,” Rahul Narayan, the fleet commander of the team said at a news conference in New Delhi Thursday.

The supermoon rising above Cape Town on November 14, 2016, when it was closest to the earth in 68 years.ENLARGE
The supermoon rising above Cape Town on November 14, 2016, when it was closest to the earth in 68 years.PHOTO: RODGER BOSCHRODGER BOSCH/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Team Indus spacecraft is expected to make it to the planet’s north-western region of Mare Imbrium by January 2018.

The race is on. Sixteen other teams from across the world want to make the 238,900-mile trip and Team Indus is the fourth team to announce its launch plans, said Mr. Narayan.

“We are considering the team from Israel great competition at this point,” he said.

The Indian team’s plan is the country’s first shot at becoming the fourth nation to land gently on the lunar surface and unfurl its national flag, after the U.S., Russia and China.

The South Asian nation’s inexpensive Mars mission put its satellite Mangalyan, which now appears on India’s new 2,000 rupee banknotes, into the red planet’s orbit for $74 million in September 2014. The U.S. spent $671 million getting its Maven satellite to Mars orbit.

The team said its mission would cost $60 million.

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