Moon race: TeamIndus to carry Japanese rival’s rover

‘Rideshare’ pact: TeamIndus has signed an agreement to carry a robotic rover developed by Hakuto.

‘Rideshare’ pact: TeamIndus has signed an agreement to carry a robotic rover developed by Hakuto.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

In what is seen as an unprecedented tie-up between two private space novices which are both competing to land on the moon, TeamIndus of Bengaluru has said its spacecraft will also carry a Japanese contestant’s rover along with its own.

TeamIndus and Hakuto, the team of Japanaese startup ispace Inc., have signed a “rideshare” agreement. While Team Indus's spacecraft will be launched on ISRO's PSLV rocket on December 28, 2017, Hakuto's four-kg robotic rover will be carried on Team Indus's 600-kg spacecraft.

TeamIndus on Wednesday said it has signed “a commercial agreement to carry a robotic rover developed by Hakuto, the Japanese team in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, to the moon aboard TeamIndus’s spacecraft in late 2017.”

“This is a first of a kind collaboration of two private space enterprises competing in the [totally $30-million] Google Lunar XPRIZE,” Rahul Narayan, Fleet Commander of TeamIndus, said. The GLXP, announced in 2007, encourages private-funded entities to land on the moon and rove on its surface for at least half a kilometre. It mandates that they must launch their spacecraft by December 31, 2017.

TeamIndus is the sole Indian entry. The travel to moon will last a few days, after which it plans to land its spacecraft on the lunar surface on the Republic Day of 2018.

Last year, it won the $ 1-million milestone prize for proving its landing technology. Hakuto (meaning white rabbit) also won a mid-contest prize of $ 500,000 for its robotic rover.

From among the original 30-odd candidates, GLXP has said it now has five confirmed teams in the race. The other three are SpaceIL of Israel; Moon Express of USA; and the 15-nation Synergy Moon.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 7:41:13 PM |

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