An Indian startup 'Team Indus' could be the first private entity to land on the moon
It is literally a moonshot.
Rahul Narayan had no clue about space. In 2010, he was in the application business, running a startup that developed products for an ecommerce company.
Who knew seven years afterwards, he'd on his way sending a rover to the moon?
Narayan and his buddies were intrigued by Google Lunar X-Prize competition declared in 2010.
The competition invited private companies make it travel for 500 meters to land a rover on the moon and beam videos and high resolution pictures back to Earth.
"We were looking and saying that if any Indian team is doing this we got to be part with this. Whether constructing applications or doing marketing, that is the endeavor of a very long time," Narayan told Mashable two months ago in the Team Indus campus in Bangalore.
Thus, the only option left was that we'd to function as the Indian team. So going from 'hey, we shall assist in promotion' and being a portion of the group to figuring out everything in the basic principles and Wikipedia [on] the best way to construct a spacecraft. That's the real story."
On Thursday, Team Indus announced it had become the very first private company to have procured a dedicated rocket from the government-funded Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
If all goes according to plan, Team Indus' house-made spacecraft will fly aboard ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) during a three-day launch window starting Dec. 28, 2016.
The PSLV will inject the spacecraft in an orbit 880 kilometers x 70,000 kilometers around the Earth. The spacecraft will subsequently embark upon a 21-day journey and land in Mare Imbrium, a region in the North Western hemisphere of the Moon.
Team Indus was among the final teams to register for the contest.
Over the past handful of years, they went from figuring out whether they could do it, to hiring a team which could take them nearer to attaining the endeavor.
But the watershed moment came when Lunar X-Prize shortlisted them to get a Milestone challenge and they won $1 million.
Since then, Team Indus has raised funds from entrepreneurs and distinguished Indian industrialists like Ratan Tata of the Tata Group, Infosys cofounder Nandan Nilekani, Flipkart co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, and a lot more.
One of the rules -Prize is that the mission should be at least 90 percent financed by private sources.
The group has developed a team consisting of 100 people, mainly kids fresh out of college along with 20 retired ISRO scientists with rich experience of space missions.
Team Indus was one of the last teams to register for the competition.
For its part, ISRO is one of the most famous space agencies in the world's, helped India create its own GPS system, launched record number of satellites in one mission and having sent missions to Mars.
Team Indus is now the fourth team considers itself as among the front runners in the challenge and globally to have procured a launch contract.
Israeli team SpaceIL procured a contract in Oct. 2015 and is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the second half of next year.
American team Moon Express declared its contract with Rocket Lab's Electron rockets and is also scheduled for launch in 2017.
Synergy Systems, an international team, became the third team to procure a launch vehicle and can also be scheduled to go in the next half of 2017 to the Moon. One of the team members, Interorbital Systems, can use a Neptune 8 rocket and will function as launching provider.
But the Google Lunar X-Prize is only the beginning for the Indian startup, which feels it has a foot in the door in the growing private business of space exploration.
"As Team Indus goes ahead, whether it wins the competition, I think one impact that'll come out, is any group of five individuals can begin and build something that can land on the moon.