Coverage by Bhat@variance.AI on “Moonshot” session by TeamIndus at Utsah of IIITH on 20th May 2017
Rahul Narayan started his journey of Moonshot six years ago as the last applicant of Google’s Lunar XPRIZE contest. Rahul is the David of this Goliath task of landing a rover on the moon. He is the same modest individual that I met in TIECON 2015, even though now he got millions in funding for his moon mission and has a 140 member team.
His pursuit of Moonshot is on way its course to make private India shine on the global map to achieve a feat that only three countries have done so far. No private company has ever landed a private spacecraft on the moon.
Shilika Ravisankar is his people partner in the mission. Her passion for the mission is visible in her talk.
I am the founder of Team Indus that we founded 6 years ago, Team Indus is flying a privately funded Spacecraft to the moon in Dec 17.
Google came up with the competition with two rules in 2007.
Rule: Make the rover land and move 500 meters on Moon
Rule: Do it with private fund
There are only three countries that landed on Moon: USA, Russia and China.
We believe the best way to inspire change is to create path-breaking solutions that take on critical challenges for mankind. Our inspiration is to be that change.
We started as 5 people but we are 140 now.
Secret sauce: 12 retired ISRO scientists mixed with very young team.
Governments with massive resources can do a mission like this at ease. But, a private company like us had no access to such resources.
Rover EKA (Ek Choti si Asha)
Here is version 4 of the rover. We have generation 6 prototype ready by June and that is the one we will fly.
Milestone based incentives:
We build a working prototype that an independent jury of scientists reviewed and awarded us a million. French company partnered with us and provided their camera technology.
30 teams registered for the Google Lunar XPRIZE announced in 2007. Most of them are from US and Europe. Now we are left with 5 teams. One from Japan, one from India, one from Israel and two from USA.
Robot fits into the nose of PSLV. Even Japanese team is flying the robot with our satellite launch vehicle.
The rover is made with Aluminum and is 9 feet wide. Mass and volume are always a problem. Colors in the picture indicate payload. 3 axis stabilizer helps to maintain the orientation. Top view shows tanks fuel and oxidiser. Central part is the engine.
Distance between earth and moon is 3 lakhs km. We took fuel optimum trajectory that will take 22-36 days for us to land on the moon,
Launch vehicle leaves us at the perigee of earth’s orbit. Then we move it to second orbit. Then we let it take off to moon and reach within 100 kilometers of moon, Over 4 maneuvers, we lower and bring the rover close enough to the surface for an upright landing.
Once we are near the moon, We wait for 4 days for sunlight to appear on that part of the moon as we use visual sensors that need light.
We need Deep space network (Buylalu and Goldstone).
Q) Your budget for this project?
TeamIndus: It costs us Rs.500 crore to do it. We raised 40% of our budget till now.
Q) Why did you let your competitor from Japan use your spacecraft?
TeamIndus: We provided this as service to Japanese team so we can finance some cost of our project.
Q) Is landing site on the dark side of the moon?
TeamIndus: No. It requires us an orbiter to communicate with earth if we land on dark side.
Q) Is this exact replica of the rover you will be sending?
TeamIndus: We got a 3D printed rover here. The real one is made with Aluminum.
We could bring ISRO, AIRBUS and Analog Devices on board. This itself is a hug milestone.
CAG: We went through an audit to get a contract from ISRO in time.
Our engineering is based on utility and frugality.
Q) What is the name of the river?
TeamIndus: Name of the rover ECA (Ek Choti Se Aasa)
Q) How do you make this into everyone’s machine?
TeamIndus: Challenged 12-25 year old to come up with an experiment and we got 8 entries out of 3000. All of these 8 experiments go with our mission to moon for whatever experiment they chose to do.
Team of three High school students of Peru came up with a brilliant experiment and we will send it to moon. Select set of 500 students came to our office for 4 day training. We offer folks to come and intern with us for a month. We Let people see the tests.
We are going to let 50 people to get part of the mission control. Algorithm picks.
Q) What is in it for you?
TeamIndus: Aerospace as global engineering activity and we see ourselves as part of that industry.
Q) Are you bringing anything back?
TeamIndus: Only data. We leave our lunar cube there. Nothing will come back to earth.