Monday, July 25, 2011

Team Indus is moving to center stage

Thanks to a status report prepared on July 21 by Rahul Narayan,
Team Lead & Mission Crew at Team Indus, fans of Team Indus which is India's lone entrant in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition have a much better idea as to what is happening this summer.

The entire report can be seen here -

Dilip Chabria, Founding member & Marketing lead, was kind enough to answer a few of my quick follow up questions.

"With Rover design considerations completed, we will send our Rover prototype
for expert review once it passes internal testing - other than any glaring
omissions pointed out by the review panel, we do not expect major structural
changes to the Rover," said Chabria. "The software part of the Rover, which includes       AutoNav capabilities will however continue to evolve as we go along. Once the first
prototype version is reviewed we will begin the second prototype immediately

"The key challenge with Rovers will always be testing in regolith simulated
terrains - there are excellent facilities with NASA, Team Indus may not go
that far for testing though. ISRO is developing a limited capability lunar
terrain, which we would like to get access to later this year," he added. 

He confirmed that, "there are no other Indian teams on the final GLXP roster. Individuals of
Indian origin are part of other teams, including Naveen Jain, founder of 

The X Prize Foundation "has done a reasonable job with the publicity of the
competition - news of GLXP has been on the internet for over 3 years and
people in the right circles - government, defence agencies included were in
the know." Otherwise, Chabria did not comment when asked whether he was surprised that no other teams from India were competing.

As for the progress being made by the other 28 GLXP teams?

"While we attempt to follow all teams' blogs, for rankings we simply go by
Mike's scorecard (
Goes without saying, Astrobotic is the leader of the pack, MoonEx is the
newest challenger, and there are at least 5-6 other serious contenders that
we follow closely," he said.

And when does he think the first GLXP rover will actually land on the Moon and
why at this date?

 "In our opinion, there is a 50%-50% chance of the first GLXP team's attempt to
be last quarter 2013 or first quarter 2014. Specific dates will probably be
dictated by launch manifests of individual providers as well as possible
local, national sentiment, so if we had to launch first quarter 2014 given
the option we will probably go for our Republic day - 26th January - as the launch
or landing dates," said Chabria. 

Because at least one other GLXP team based in the Netherlands known as Team White Label Space which has its rover under development in Japan, for example, has talked openly about pursuing a possible Indian launch option, we asked Chabria if he was confident that Team Indus will use an Indian launch vehicle, and if Team Indus enjoyed a priority status in terms of this same launch vehicle.
 "ISRO's PSLV is an extremely reliable launch service provider, given the
respite we get in the paperwork, logistics costs, insurance considerations
and more - for Team Indus PSLV is the only launch option we are considering," he said. 
"We have modified our mission plan to adapt to PSLV's launch characteristics.
Team Indus is a for-Profit company, therefore I doubt we will get too many
discounts from ISRO, however being an Indian company we should get easier,
faster audience at ISRO."

Clearly, Team Indus is moving to center stage, so look for the rollout of the team's rover prototype late next month.

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