Bangalore-based firm Team Indus, a startup has bagged Google Lunar Xprize worth $1 million this year for Landing category after competing established players in the worldwide competition. The prize, also known as Moon 2.0, was set up by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by Google.
The Team Indus has been given the prize for its contribution in key technological are of devising the landing plan for a private spacecraft on the moon. Team Indus has constructed a prototype of the moon-lander’s structure, with vibration and drop testing.
“The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is asking teams to accomplish a feat that has never been achieved—the safe landing of a private craft on the lunar surface that travels at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and imagery back to Earth,” said Robert K. Weiss, president of XPRIZE.
Google’s Milestone Prizes are awarded for both hardware and software innovations in three crucial areas of imaging, mobility and landing systems to successfully touch down on moon. All these prizes are part of a larger Google Lunar XPRIZE mission. The Milestone prize winners are chosen by panel of judges drawn from science, aeronautics and space industry.
In all five teams have been awarded a combined $5.25 million in recognition of “key technological advancements toward their quest to land a private spacecraft on the surface of the moon,” said the Xprize Foundation.
Here are the 5 recipients of this year’s 9 Milestone Prizes:
Landing: Team Indus ($1 million);
Astrobotic (US): Imaging ($250,000), Mobility ($500,000), Landing ($1M);
Hakuto (Japan): Mobility ($500,000);
Moon Express (US): Imaging ($250,000), Landing ($1M);
Part-Time Scientists (Germany): Imaging ($250,000), Mobility ($500,000);
Announced in 2007, the Google Lunar XPRIZE offered a total of $30 million in prizes to the first privately funded teams to land a robot on the Moon that successfully travels more than 500 meters (1,640 ft) and transmits back high definition images and video.
The first team that succeeds was to get $20 million Grand Prize but it was reduced to $15 million later and no team has so far proposed a convincing model and the last date was extended several times and now it is Dec.31, 2015 and the prize money expires on Dec.31, 2016.
Peter Diamandis, the project founder, explained the prize as:”It has been many decades since we explored the Moon from the lunar surface, and it could be another 6–8 years before any government returns. Even then, it will be at a large expense, and probably with little public involvement.”
So far, five of the 18 teams in the race have “demonstrated good progress” and Bangalore’s Team Indus was one of them. While the ideas initially mooted by Peter Diamandis, NASA was facing budget constraints and he approached Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, at an X Prize Foundation fundraiser. They agreed to sponsor it, and also to increase the prize purse to $30 million, including a second prize, besides some bonus prizes.
“As part of this revised timeline, at least one team must provide documentation of a scheduled launch by December 31, 2015, for all teams to move forward in the competition,” the foundation said.