Contributors to Team Indus project will have names etched on an object going to space, reports Alnoor Peermohamed.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
If you pay Rs 500 to the first private moon mission in the country, Team Indus, your name could be etched on an object travelling to the celestial satellite next year.
Team Indus is looking to raise money through crowdfunding for its mission.
Those contributing would have their names written on an aluminium block that will accompany the mission's rover to the moon, reaching on January 26, 2018.
The initiative, to be launched next month, is looking to raise up to $10 million by getting 1.4 million citizens to back the mission, with a minimum contribution of Rs 500 each.
Names of contributors will be micro-engraved on an aluminium block that will remain on the moon for future lunar explorers to find, said Sheelika Ravishankar, Jedi master, marketing and outreach, Team Indus.
Team Indus has so far raised $30 million in equity from high-profile industrialists such as Nandan Nilekani, Ratan Tata, Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal, Venu Srinivasan and several others.
Apart from this, the company will charge a fee from Hakuto, the Japanese team competing against it in the Google Lunar XPrize competition, for carrying its rover to the moon.
The total cost of the mission will be about $65 million, including the cost of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which will be supplied by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Team Indus isn't the first private space mission to turn to crowdfunding.
Mars One, looking to take humans to Mars by 2025, is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $400,000 for its unmanned exploratory mission to the neighbouring planet in 2018.
It is giving backers the chance to have their messages printed on the lander parachute for $95 or have their picture along with a message sent to the red planet for $1,250.
The Indian lunar mission is looking to blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on December 28, keeping it in the race to win a part of the $30 million prize money for the competition.
After being placed on the earth's orbit by the PSLV, the lander will fire its rockets and attempt a trans-lunar injection manoeuvre that will see it use the earth's gravity to slingshot it towards the moon.
The spacecraft will then take 16 to 21 days to reach and enter the lunar orbit, around 180 km above the moon's surface, in its preparation to land.
Team Indus is aiming to put its lander and rover on a region of the moon known as Mare Imbrium, chosen for its flat dusty plains, which will make it easy for the rover to move around.
Once on the moon, Team Indus has to get its rover to traverse 500m on the lunar surface and send high-resolution photos and videos to earth.
The mission is expected to be completed in four days, leaving another 10 days for it to explore more of the moon's surface if everything goes according to plan.
If successful, Team Indus could be the first private firm and fourth organisation to soft land on to the lunar surface.
So far, only the space agencies of the US, Russia and China have been able to achieve this feat.
The Indian firm is going to be in competition with SpaceIL from Israel, Moon Express from the US, Synergy Moon and Part-Time Scientists from Germany, who are in the running for the Google Lunar XPrize competition.
ISRO is also planning to land a rover on the moon next year.