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Team Indus

Aerospace Research Team

For-Profit Organisation

Active competitor in Google Lunar X Prize
Industry Aerospace
Founders Rahul Narayan, Indranil Chakraborty, Sameer Joshi, Dilip Chabria, Julius Amrit, Dhruv Batra, Shrelika Ravishankar
Headquarters Bangalore, Bangalore, India
Number of locations
Delhi, Bangalore

Team Indus is a for-profit organisation headquartered in Bangalore, India, and led by Rahul Narayan.[citation needed] The team of professionals from various backgrounds in science, technology, finance and media is the only Indian team attempting to win the Google Lunar X Prize mission announced in 2007. The mission, often referred to as "Moon 2.0", is a challenge that calls for participating teams to design and land a spacecraft on the Moon. The craft is required to travel more than 500 metres (1,600 ft) on the lunar surface and send feedback to Earth. The deadline of the competition, which initially attracted entries from over 30 teams from 17 countries, is 31 March 2018. There are various prizes, including a main prize of US$20 million.

TeamIndus raised US$35 million in December 2014 from investors including Subrata Mitra and Shekhar Kirani of Accel Partners, Sharad Sharma, the former Yahoo India R&D head, Vivek Raghavan, chief product manager of UIDAI (the Aadhaar project), Pallaw Sharma, director of analytics at Microsoft, serial entrepreneur Bala Parthasarthy, who is part of the AngelPrime angel investor group, Sunil Kalra, entrepreneur, and investors Paras Chopra and Pallav Nadhani.

In January 2015, TeamIndus were awarded US$1 million for having successfully completed a test of their landing system. It was one of the five teams, out of the 18 remaining entrants, to be rewarded for clearing a specified test.


The Google Lunar X Prize is a competition open to privately-funded ventures aimed at inspiring the development of low-cost robotic space exploration. It has a main prize of US$20 million, a second prize of US$5 million and bonus prizes of US$5 million. Additional prizes totalling US$4.75 million are to be shared equally between all teams that meet specific targets by 31 March 2018,[1] with a launch date no later than 31 December 2017.[2]

The primary prizes require that the successful teams have landed a vehicle on the surface of the moon at a pre-agreed point, then caused it to travel at least 500 metres (1,600 ft) and transmit high-resolution video and images once there.[1] Public sector support up to the value of 10% of total mission cost is permitted. The winner and second-placed team will have any subsidiary prizes netted off against their main award.[3]


TeamIndus was established in 2012[clarification needed] and is the only X Prize competitor based in India. One of its co-founders was Rajul Narayan, who said in 2016 that the overall cost of the venture was expected to be US$75 million. The single largest investor at that time was Nandan Nilekani, who had become involved in 2014 when TeamIndus launched its first round of funding, which raised US$35 million. A second fundraising round in 2016 saw investment from people such as R. K. Damani, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, and Ashish Kacholia. Other big-name investors include Rajiv Mody, Subrata Mitra and Shekhar Kirani, and Sharad Sharma.[4]

The organisation was awarded an interim US$1 million prize in early 2015 following their successful demonstration of proposed landing systems in 2014. By that time, the number of entrants for the competition was 18, of which five were awarded one of the interim payments.[5] There had initially been over 30 entrants to the competition.[6]


TeamIndus plans to launch from the island of Sriharikota.[6] They initially planned to attempt the endurance and distance bonus prizes by designing a lunar lander and two rovers. The two rovers together are planned to have a mass of around 15 kilograms (33 lb).[7] One rover would compete for the main task, i.e. to travel more than 500 meters on the lunar surface and send feedback to Earth. The other rover would compete for the US$5 million worth prize by completing additional tasks beyond baseline requirements to win grand or the second place prize, such as survival and range. However the plans were later modified.[citation needed]

The spacecraft is envisaged to transport the two rovers in the lunar lander from earth's surface to orbit around the moon. The lunar lander will be the primary communication and control centre and will also absorb the lunar touchdown impact.[citation needed]

In 2013, TeamIndus moved from Delhi to Bangalore due to the strategic location of the city, which is nicknamed the Silicon Valley of India. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is based in Bangalore and is crucial to the future plans of the team since the team needs a commercial launch vehicle. Furthermore, the state capital has also excellent aerospace companies that can help the team with building the lander and rover. L&T is helping by reviewing designs, Sasken has given space in its Bangalore facility for the team to operate out of and several former ISRO scientists are providing advice.[citation needed] The mission life is expected to be 21 days.

The original plan was for a launch date in 2014.[citation needed] In 2016, a contract with ISRO for a launch in 2017 was secured.[8] The launch would be share with Hakuto, a fellow competitor from Japan.[2]

The mission to the moon is planned as a Launch - Coast - Burn - Direct Lunar Descent trajectory. TeamIndus plans to launch the rovers using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle operated by ISRO, for which the proposal has been made. The planned mission duration is 30 earth days. The mass at launch is approximated at 900 kg and total lunar payload mass is approximated at 40 kg.[citation needed]

The TeamIndus lunar lander, code named HHK1, is envisioned as a universal airless body landing platform. The team plans at further modification of the HHK1 for other terrestrial and inter-stellar application after the Google Lunar X Prize is over. For the present mission, the HHK1 is the main communication and control unit consisting of payload, propulsion, structural and other sub-systems.[citation needed]

In January 2017, the Google Lunar X Prize Foundation announced Team Indus's place in the final five teams.[citation needed]

The lander of Team Indus, HHK-1, was designed to carry a payload of about 25 kg.[9]

TeamIndus' lunar spacecraft and rover, was named ECA for "Ek Choti si Asha" ("a small dream").[10]

TeamIndus's contract with ISRO has been called off in January 2018, and the competition for team have almost come to a halt.[11]

Agreement with Indian Institute of Astrophysics[edit]

Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager (LUCI), an instrument to scan the sky in near-UV wavelengths is developed by researchers from Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), headed by Jayant Murthy.[12]

LUCI[13][14] is an innovative all-spherical mirrors telescope expected to be deployed as part of the lander on the lunar surface. No other UV payloads have been previously reported with an all-spherical optical design for imaging in the NUV domain and weighing .2 kg. An electronics board which includes FPGA and Microcontroller is used for the data acquisition, processing, and CCD control. LUCI will observe at a fixed elevation angle and will detect stars in the near-UV (200–320 nm) to a limiting magnitude of 12 and with a field of view of ~ 28' × 20'. The primary science goal is to search for transient sources and flag them for further study.

A member of the project team said "Our aim is focused on bright UV sources not accessible by the more sensitive large space UV missions like Isro’s Astrosat mission or for that matter NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer mission or the Hubble Space Telescope".[15]


  1. ^ a b "Google Lunar XPRIZE Home Page". Google Lunar XPRIZE. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  2. ^ a b Stevens, Tim (24 January 2017). "Five Google Lunar XPrize teams confirm they're set for the moon". CNET. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  3. ^ "Guidelines". Google Lunar XPRIZE. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  4. ^ Madhumathi, D. S. (26 November 2016). "Bullish investors back Team Indus moon shot". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  5. ^ Stevens, Tim (26 January 2015). "$5.25 million awarded to five Google Lunar XPrize teams with the right stuff". CNET. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  6. ^ a b Stevens, Tim (1 April 2014). "Google Lunar XPrize competition enters milestone phase". CNET. Retrieved 2017-10-08. 
  7. ^ Raj, N. Gopal (10 April 2011). "Indian team in lunar rover competition". Hindu e-news. Chennai, India. Retrieved 2016-10-31. 
  8. ^ "Indian space start-up's lunar dream gets ISRO support; aims for global prize!". Zee News. 31 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-31. 
  9. ^ Chopra, Arushi (30 March 2017). "Augmented reality, 3D printing and a shot at the moon". Live Mint. Retrieved 2017-03-30. 
  10. ^ "A startup team from Bengaluru preparing for an unmanned lunar mission". Economic Times. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Bangalore-based startup aims for the skies | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  13. ^ Safonova, M., Mathew, J., Mohan, R. et al. Astrophys. Space Sci. (2014) 353: 329. doi:10.1007/s10509-014-2056-y
  14. ^ Mathew, J., Prakash, A., Sarpotdar, M. et al. Astrophys. Space Sci. (2017) 362: 37. doi:10.1007/s10509-017-3010-6
  15. ^ "IIA, Team Indus take an X-Prize shot with LUCI - Bangalore Mirror -". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 2017-05-14. 

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