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Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 18 Apr 2017 14:44

NASA agent faces heat for 'degrading' moon rock sting during which grandmother wet herself
Retiree grilled after trying to flog heirlooms to foot medical bills

by Iain Thomson Theregister.co.uk April 18, 2017

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A NASA agent can be sued for allegedly subjecting a 74-year-old granny to a "degrading" two-hour interrogation over a sliver of moon rock. That's according to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, which late last week ruled space agency investigator Norman Conley is not, at least in this case, immune from the law.

Back in 2011, Joann Davis and her 70-year-old husband Paul Cilley were collared in a NASA-led sting operation, and grilled by officials in a Denny's parking lot in Lake Elsinore, California. During this public interrogation, Davis wet her pants after her pleas to use the bathroom were ignored, it is claimed.

Why the humiliating questioning? Because the couple had a rather interesting keepsake they wanted to sell to settle their son's medical bills: a paperweight containing lunar rock the size of a single grain of rice.

And Uncle Sam really, really wanted it back.

Davis and her first husband Robert had both worked at North American Rockwell in the 1960s, building parts for the Apollo space program. After the first manned moon landing, the family claims Neil Armstrong gave Robert a fragment of the moon and a small piece of Apollo 11's heat shield as a thank you for the brilliant engineer's hard work.

The two objects were separately encased in lucite and used as paperweights by Robert. When he died in 1986, they were left to his wife. In 2011, Mrs Davis ran into financial difficulties and planned to sell the two paperweights to foot her son's medical bills and help her raise several grandchildren after her daughter passed away.

She emailed NASA for advice on how to sell the trinkets. She was then telephoned by someone calling himself Jeff who claimed to be a broker. Jeff said he had heard the grandmother wanted to flog her cosmic memorabilia, and claimed he had previously worked on the space shuttle program. However, unbeknownst to Davis, Jeff was in fact a NASA special agent called Norman Conley.

Conley knew but for some reason, over the course of seven long phone calls, didn't tell Davis that selling moon rock is straight up illegal. All samples taken from our natural satellite on the Apollo missions are the property of the US government and cannot be hawked legally. But rather than tell Davis this, Conley chose to set up a sting operation to recover the rock and heat shield shards. Davis even told Jeff she knew someone had been jailed for touting moon rock, but she believed she was in the clear because the material was a legit gift.

Davis had stressed to Conley that she wanted to "do things legally" because she was "just not an illegal person." Jeff agreed, saying "you and I are both legal people," and yet he warned her "the sale of a moon rock ... can't be done publicly," court documents [PDF] state.

That stings
Still using the moniker Jeff, Conley arranged to meet Davis and her husband at a Denny's diner to discuss the matter. To handle the apparently dangerous septuagenarians – Davis stands an intimidating 4ft 11in tall – the agent brought along three armed Feds and three of the Riverside County Sheriff's officers.

After exchanging pleasantries, Conley suddenly grabbed Davis' hand and snatched her moon rock paperweight from her, while an agent restrained Davis' husband by gripping the back of his neck and holding his arm behind his back. The pair were searched and then marched into the parking lot where they were quizzed for about two hours.

On the way out, Davis told her interrogators twice that she was losing control of her bladder and was in dire need of a visit to the restroom, and these pleas were ignored, it is claimed. She then had to urinate in her trousers, which she told Conley made her "very uncomfortable." Conley claims he offered her "a number of remedies" for her wet clothing, but she refused – a version of events Davis disputes.

After the questioning was over, the couple was released, and Conley asked prosecutors to bring charges against Davis. However, the authorities declined to bring any further action. Not so Davis, who sued Uncle Sam and the NASA agent, alleging wrongful detention under the Fourth Amendment. Conley tried to shut down the lawsuit by arguing for immunity as a public servant, and asked for a summary judgment, but this request was denied by the district courts.

Conley and his bosses kicked the matter up to the appeals court, which has sided with the district judge: Davis can indeed sue Conley, and he is not entitled to immunity. Normally, US government workers cannot be personally taken to court just for doing their job as long as they follow the Constitution – you have to challenge Uncle Sam if you have a problem with its decisions – but in this case, Conley must face the allegations.

"Davis, who is an elderly woman, was detained by Conley in a public parking lot for two hours, while she stood in urine-soaked pants, and Conley questioned her incident to a search, concerning Davis’ possession of a paperweight containing a rice-grain-sized bit of lunar material," said Chief Judge Sidney Thomas in his ruling on Thursday.

"The district court correctly concluded that Davis has raised genuine issues of material fact as to whether Conley's detention of Davis was unreasonably prolonged and degrading ... and that Conley was not entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law."

Davis' earlier attempt to sue the US government was dismissed by a federal judge, although she is now free to pursue Conley. Meanwhile, Armstrong, who died in 2012, maintained he never once gave any moon rock or other lunar materials to anyone.

Website: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/1 ... ock_sting/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 20 Apr 2017 21:31

Isro plans to mine energy from Moon by 2030 to help meet India needs
by Utpal Bhaskar Livemint.com April 20, 2017

Isro plans to mine Helium-3 rich lunar dust, generate energy and transport it back to Earth

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Isro’s lunar dust mining plan comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to cut down import dependence in hydrocarbons by 10 percentage points by 2022. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

New Delhi: From launching 104 satellites at one go, enabling commercial roll out of lithium-ion batteries, to taking the lead in providing energy security, the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) is firing on all cylinders.

Apart from planning for manned missions to Moon, Mars and even aircraft development, Isro is now working on a plan to help India meet its energy needs from the Moon by 2030.

The premier space agency, credited with launching 225 satellites till date, plans to mine Helium-3 rich lunar dust, generate energy and transport it back to Earth.

This comes in the backdrop of successful testing of lithium-ion batteries developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre by the Automotive Research Association of India (Arai). This is expected to provide a fillip to India’s electric vehicles (EV) push. The government is now planning to transfer the technology to companies for commercial production of these batteries, reported Mint.

Isro’s lunar dust mine plans were revealed by Dr Sivathanu Pillai, professor at the space agency, in February.

Speaking at a conference in New Delhi, Pillai, former chief of BrahMos Aerospace, said that mining lunar dust was a priority programme for his organisation.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha on 29 March, minister of state in charge of atomic energy and space Jitendra Singh said, “Technology is ready for transfer to Indian industries for undertaking the production of Li-ion batteries. BHEL has expressed interest in the transfer of technology.”

This lunar dust mining plan comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to cut down import dependence in hydrocarbons by 10 percentage points by 2022. India’s energy demand growth is expected to outpace that of the other Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, according to the latest BP Energy Outlook.

Isro’s success on this front will also help reduce pollutants and India’s fuel imports. This assumes significance given India’s energy import bill of around $150 billion, which is expected to reach $300 billion by 2030. India imports around 80% of its oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements. India imported 202 million tonnes of oil in 2015-16.

Website: http://www.livemint.com/Science/W5WjJCd ... t-Ind.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 21 Apr 2017 22:44

The Israeli finalist in Google’s $20 million race to the moon won’t make it to the starting line
by Tim Fernholz Qz.com April 21, 2017

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Israeli president Reuven Rivlin scoped out a model of SpaceIL's spacecraft in 2015 (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

The Google Lunar XPrize, a contest offering $20 million to the first private team to send a robot to the moon—and explore the lunar surface for the first time since China’s space agency landed a rover in 2014—is now down to four competitors with just over eight months until the race comes to an end.

SpaceIL, formed by veterans of the Israeli tech sector, will not be able to launch by the year-end deadline set by the race’s organizers, according to Spaceflight Industries, the space transport company hired to carry the team’s spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket launch it purchased from SpaceX.
A Spaceflight executive tells Quartz that SpaceIL’s rocket is still in the launch queue but will be unable to launch before 2018, effectively scotching SpaceIL’s chance at the contest barring a last-minute extension to the deadline.

SpaceIL was one of the first teams to be certified as a finalist by signing a launch contract in 2015. Because it had a spot on a Falcon 9 for the flight, it was secure in the knowledge that it was flying on a proven vehicle—a luxury not all of its competitors have. But SpaceIL’s moon probe, which weighs only a few hundred kilograms and is the size of a dishwasher, would have been one of several payloads on Spaceflight’s rocket. According to SpaceIL spokesperson Revital Alcalay, technical challenges in fitting it into the rocket alongside other cargo, so that it is deployed at the right time during flight, have led to delays.

It’s not the only Lunar XPrize participant facing long odds of making it across the starting line. Moon Express, a US startup, has secured government approval and significant funding, but is currently contracted to fly on a vehicle built by Rocket Labs, a promising new rocket builder but one that has yet to launch its first test-flight. To go from first test-flight of a rocket to commercial operation in seven months would be remarkable.

TeamIndus, an Indian team with backers from the country’s tech sector and its space agency, has secured perhaps the most reliable vehicle available, the home-grown Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle commercialized by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). TeamIndus intends to share its rocket with fellow competitor Hakuto, a team from Japan. But TeamIndus has not yet raised the almost $70 million it needs to finish its spacecraft and finance the launch.

The final participant, Team Synergy, is made up of several teams that combined forces in order to secure the resources needed to become finalists in the contest. It’s relying on a rocket constructed by Interorbital Systems, which also has yet to be tested.

An extension wouldn’t be a first for the contest, which was organized by the XPrize Foundation, sponsored by Google, and created as a followup to the successful $10 million Ansari XPrize, which was awarded in 2004 to the first privately funded vehicle to reach space twice in a two-week period. The current contest, which requires the landing of a lunar probe that can traverse the Moon’s surface and send back digital images, began in 2007 with a 2012 deadline that has since been moved twice.

The current contest is for a privately funded lunar probe that could traverse the Moon’s surface and send back digital pictures and video, with goal of incentivizing private innovation in space. This year was intended to be the annus mirabilis for the race after the organizers, in January, certified just five teams as finalists, with signed launch contracts for 2017 serving as evidence that they could be considered serious contenders. Through the first quarter of the year, however, progress appears minimal.

The Israeli team says it intends to keep working, noting that competition rules allow them to remain in the race until the termination deadlines hits, or another extension is made. Meanwhile, Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, a senior director at the prize organization, had this to say in a statement to Quartz:

“All of these teams have provided sufficient documentation of their launch plans, including significant financial commitments to launch providers or partners, for a 2017 mission. If launch schedules are shifted, or if teams are encountering other technological or financial obstacles, the competition rules require teams to formally communicate these changes to XPRIZE for review in the coming months. We remain optimistic that we will see one (or more) teams successfully complete the mission requirements of the Google Lunar XPRIZE during the current timeline.”


Website: https://qz.com/962696/spaceil-the-israe ... ting-line/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 22 Apr 2017 08:48

The American flags on the moon are disintegrating
by Dave Mosher Business Insider April 11, 2017

Image
Image
A spacesuit-clad Apollo astronaut stands proudly next to a red-white-and-blue American flag, his national trophy telling the lonely world "the United States was here." Credit: NASA/Charlie Duke)

The photos have stood the test of time: A spacesuit-clad Apollo astronaut stands proudly next to a red-white-and-blue American flag, his national trophy telling the lonely world "the United States was here." Unfortunately, all six flags they planted from 1969 through 1972 haven't fared so well.
Images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2012 do show that at least five out six flags still stand. However, scientists think decades' worth of brilliant sunlight have bleached out their emblematic colors.

The result? The flags are probably completely bone-white by now, as we first learned from Gizmodo . But their condition may be even worse than that.

Each one of the flags was made by the company Annin Flagmakers , woven out of rayon, and cost NASA $5.50 (more than $32.00 when adjusted for inflation). On the surface of Earth , such flags fade in sunlight. That's because ultraviolet light - the same wavelength that causes sunburn - isn't fully absorbed by our planet's atmosphere, and it excels at breaking down fibers and colors.

The moon doesn't have any atmosphere to absorb sunlight, and outside of craters there is no shade. This means the flags planted by the Apollo astronauts are exposed to constant, gleaming sunlight and even more solar radiation, and for two-week stretches at a time. (One "day" on the moon lasts about 28 Earth days.)

Writing in a July 2011 article for Smithsonian Air&Space magazine, lunar scientist Paul Spudis explains :

"Over the course of the Apollo program, our astronauts deployed six American flags on the Moon. For forty-odd years, the flags have been exposed to the full fury of the Moon's environment - alternating 14 days of searing sunlight and 100° C heat with 14 days of numbing-cold -150° C darkness. But even more damaging is the intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the pure unfiltered sunlight on the cloth ( modal ) from which the Apollo flags were made. Even on Earth, the colors of a cloth flag flown in bright sunlight for many years will eventually fade and need to be replaced. So it is likely that these symbols of American achievement have been rendered blank, bleached white by the UV radiation of unfiltered sunlight on the lunar surface. Some of them may even have begun to physically disintegrate under the intense flux.
"America is left with no discernible space program while the Moon above us no longer flies a visible U.S. flag. How ironic."


Will we return to the moon?
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jeff-bezos-rocket
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elon-musk-rocket

A lot has and has not changed since Spudis' lament nearly six years ago. NASA is working hard to fly astronauts into deep space, but has since decided to skip a moon landing using its ultra-powerful Space Launch System rockets . Instead, the space agency plans to send astronauts to Mars by 2033 .

There may be hope for a moon mission in the commercial sector, though. Tech mogul Elon Musk, for example, planets to slingshot two civilians around the moon (but not land on it) in 2018 using his rocket company, SpaceX. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who owns the rocket company Blue Origin, is eager to colonize the moon .

Should neither company get people to the lunar surface, five teams competing for the $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition might, as soon as the end of 2017. Their mission includes landing a robot on the surface and broadcasting high-definition footage.

A $4 million "Apollo Heritage Bonus Prize" will go to whichever team can record the first live-video stream or panoramic image from the site of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, or 17 and include views of lunar hardware.

If they succeed, there may be an iconic flag in the frame - and we might settle the question of what they actually look like after spending more than 45 years under the sun.

Jennifer Welsh contributed to this post.
Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

Website: http://www.businessinsider.in/the-ameri ... 097479.cms

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 25 Apr 2017 22:57

What Does The Far Side Of The Moon Look Like?
by Jillian Scudder Forbes.com April 17, 2017

Have we taken any sort of video, or still pictures of the dark side of the moon?
Image
An oblique view of the Crater Daedalus on the lunar farside as seen from the Apollo 11 spacecraft in lunar orbit. Daedalus (formerly referred to as Crater No. 308) is has a diameter of about 50 miles. This is a typical scene showing the rugged terrain on the farside of the moon. Credit: NASA

We absolutely have, and they are super fun! A first point of clarification, though - there’s no “dark side” of the Moon.

There’s a far side which is never visible from our perspective on the Earth, but with the exception of during a full moon, the far side of the moon is at least partially illuminated. Any portion of the side facing us which isn’t lit by the Sun means that a corresponding fraction of the far side is brightly lit. During a New Moon, therefore, when the hemisphere of the moon which faces us is dark, the entire far side of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun. Ultimately, the far side of the moon is bright for exactly the same length of time as the near side!

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The lunar farside as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera was designed to acquire data for landing site certification and to conduct polar illumination studies and global mapping Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Because the far side of the moon is perpetually hidden from us here on Earth, its features are not nearly as familiar to us as the features of the side facing us, visible to anyone who looks up at the sky. On top of that intrinsic lack of familiarity, the far side of the moon is also a very different place than the near side is; it’s almost entirely missing the smooth(ish) dark mare which make up the most obvious landmarks on the near side. The far side instead is almost entirely craters; craters piled within other craters, jumbled on top of each other in a chaotic, rough terrain.

These images are also relatively new to us. We didn’t know how different the far side would be until spacecraft with cameras had been sent to go examine the other half of the Moon. The first images from the far side of the moon came from the USSR spacecraft Luna 3, in 1959. It’s been less than 60 years since those first photos were returned to Earth. By current standards, they’re rather poor images, but they were good enough to tell us that the far side of the Moon was nothing like the near side.

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Rugged highland terrain on the farside of the Moon, south of Cantor crater, taken at sunset. Image width is ~3.4 kilometers. Although the pronounced shadows hide the interiors of craters, the high incidence angle exaggerates the surrounding terrain so that subtle surface features are enhanced Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

We got another stack of images of the lunar far side shortly afterwards, during the Apollo era. During the Apollo missions, one of the three crew members stayed in the orbiting capsule which would return all three of them home, while the other two journeyed down to the lunar surface. The astronauts who stayed in these capsules instead got a tour of the far side of the Moon, and took a number of photos of the surface from orbit. One such is at the top of the page, taken by Michael Collins.

Nowadays, we have a lot more spacecraft with very impressive cameras aboard, and they send back very detailed pictures of all sides of the Moon. One of these is NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite which hosts the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) for NASA. DSCOVR orbits the Sun slightly on a smaller orbit than the Earths’, at a stable point called L1. This allows the satellite to stay pointed at the Earth, but also to keep a good perspective. DSCOVR therefore sits about a million miles away from the Earth, many times farther than the orbit of the Moon. Every so often, the Moon will cross in front of the Earth, relative to DSCOVR, and EPIC can grab a series of images (which we can turn into a video) of the lunar far side, fully illuminated by the Sun.


NASA Camera Catches Moon 'Photobombing' Earth Credit: Nasa

Author is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Astrophysics.

Website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jillianscu ... e08bec459a

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 26 Apr 2017 22:35

China and Europe to build a base on the moon and launch other projects into space
by Andrew Griffin Independent.co.uk April 26, 2017

If space is to be explored peacefully it will require ‘international collaboration’, a spokesperson for the European Space Agency said

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Concept art for a domed lunar city in one of the Moon's craters Credit: Getty

China and Europe are looking to build a human outpost on the moon. Representatives of the Chinese and European space agencies have discussed collaborating on a moonbase and other possible joint endeavours, according to spokespeople and media reports.

The work was first revealed by Tian Yulong, the secretary general of China’s space agency, who told Chinese state media about the talks. Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesperson for the European Space Agency, confirmed the discussions.

“The Chinese have a very ambitious moon programme already in place,” Mr Hvistendahl said. “Space has changed since the space race of the Sixties. We recognise that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do international cooperation.”


Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the director general of the 22-member ESA, has described its proposed “Moon Village” as a potential international launching pad for future missions to Mars and a chance to develop space tourism or even lunar mining.

China arrived relatively late to space travel but has ramped up its programme since its first manned spaceflight in 2003, more than 42 years after a Soviet cosmonaut became the first to reach orbit.

Last week, the China National Space Administration launched an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with its currently unoccupied space station. It plans to launch a mission to collect samples from the moon by the end of this year and conduct the first mission to the moon’s far side to bring back mineral samples next year.

The ESA hopes to conduct a mission analysis on samples brought back by this year’s Chinese mission, known as Chang’e 5, and also have a European flying on the Chinese space station at some future date, Mr Hvistendahl said. Neither prospect has been finalised.

China was excluded from the International Space Station mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space programme's strong military connections.

Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/scien ... ml#gallery

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 28 Apr 2017 21:20

Open House Registration #2
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TeamIndus is inviting you to take a look behind the scenes of our Moonshot. The Open House on May 6, 2017 (Saturday) is an opportunity to learn more about our Mission, meet our engineers & scientists, take a look at our spacecraft and rover, ECA.

Register here: https://teamindus.typeform.com/to/t2Nm1B
Maps here: https://goo.gl/maps/kVJUmyLaabz

Website: https://teamindus.typeform.com/to/t2Nm1B

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 01 May 2017 10:04

A long journey: Mission moon
by Kunal Doley Financialexpress.com April 30, 2017

As I proceed towards the reception area, I am greeted with a wraparound banner that reads: ‘New world thinking for tomorrow’s challenges’.
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India’s space prowess is globally acknowledged. What could be more historic is an Indian private enterprise landing on the moon. That’s what a group of over 100 people in Bengaluru, called Team Indus, is striving for

IT’S A hot but not so humid Bengaluru afternoon. As I drive down to the Team Indus office at Jakkuru Layout on the outskirts of the city from the Kempegowda International Airport, the ‘destination’ on my cellphone GPS points to a large, whitewashed building within a sprawling campus. A neon sign on the rooftop screams ‘Har Indian ka Moonshot’, while a prototype of a moon lander takes up space on the ground below. On the other side, behind the lawns, is a massive backdrop (used for events, etc) depicting the surface of the moon in the background and a silhouette of Team Indus’ engineers working on a spacecraft in the foreground.

As I proceed towards the reception area, I am greeted with a wraparound banner that reads: ‘New world thinking for tomorrow’s challenges’. The three meeting rooms near the reception are aptly named after the start-up’s motto: Aspire, Believe, Create. That the office itself is divided into sections called ‘Bhaskara Block’, ‘Aryabhatta Block’ and ‘CV Raman Block’ adds to the overall aura.

Inside, across a large hall, a team of over 100 professionals, mostly youngsters in the average age group of 25 years, are buckling down to accomplish what is being touted as a historic project—the world’s first privately-funded mission to not only build and ‘soft-land’ a spacecraft on the moon, but also have a ‘rover’ traverse 500 m on its surface, sending back high-definition images and videos of the earth’s satellite. Although missions to the moon have been conducted by five countries so far—the erstwhile Soviet Union, the US, Japan, China and India—apart from the European Space Agency, only three nations (the US, Russia and China) have successfully accomplished a soft landing on the moon, as against a ‘crash landing’. If Team Indus succeeds in its mission, India will be the fourth country on that list.

Contrary to what most people would like to believe, Team Indus’ staffers comprise only a handful of seasoned scientists, mostly retired Isro employees, such as N Srinivas Hegde, a former mission director of Chandrayaan; PS Nair, now in charge of structures; and P Natarajan, in charge of flight dynamics systems. The 12 scientists are between 65 and 70 years of age. “This (moon mission) required a different way of doing it. You can’t have the same input, output and thought process as has been done before. And that has been our strength: managing the relationship between experience and energy,” explains team leader Rahul Narayan.

If all goes as per plan, Team Indus will hoist the Tricolour on the moon’s surface on January 26—India’s Republic Day—next year after undertaking a journey of 21 days in space. It will also be able to fulfill the terms of the Google Lunar XPrize (GLXP), thereby becoming eligible to win a total of $30 million in prize money. Team Indus is the only Indian outfit among the 33-odd teams that originally signed up for the Lunar XPrize by its December 30, 2010, registration deadline. The start-up has already won a ‘Milestone Prize’ of $1 million for its ‘lunar lander’ design in 2015. If Team Indus, indeed, becomes the first team to fulfill all the mission requirements, it could win $20 million as the grand prize.

If it’s the runner-up, it would still win $5 million. Only five teams, including Team Indus, remain in the running now. The others are SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (the US), Synergy Moon (an international team made up of members from over 15 different nations) and Hakuto (Japan). The deadline for completing the project is December 31 this year.

The final countdown
As the deadline approaches, and interest in the venture grows, from the media as well as potential partners, Narayan is getting busier by the day. The 43-year-old co-founder of Axiom Research Labs, the aerospace start-up that is running the Team Indus project, has just finished meeting a team of professionals from France’s national space agency CNES. In January, the CNES inked a deal with Team Indus for equipping its lunar rover with two latest-generation CASPEX micro-cameras, developed by the CNES in partnership with French firm 3DPlus. Simply put, the micro-cameras will become the ‘eyes’ of the rover. In joining forces with Team Indus on this mission, the CNES will be sending French technology for the first time on lunar terrain, say reports.

Narayan is also the ‘Fleet Commander’ of Team Indus—one of the many unique designations centred around the popular Star Wars franchise that Sheelika Ravishankar, who heads the start-up’s outreach and people programmes, came up with for its employees. When you are working in an environment among tech geeks and rocket scientists, you are bound to come across a high concentration of Star Wars fans. “Ours is an unconventional mission, and our troops can’t be addressed by anything ordinary. Hence, we sought to find inspiration in the movie and created designations for all, which were inspired by the Star Wars franchise. These designations add to the fascination that people have about space,” says Ravishankar.

So you have Jedis and Ninjas, as also Skywalkers. “The Ninjas and Skywalkers are people who are responsible for their own work. Troopers are ones who share the responsibilities of their teams. Jedi Masters can generally be termed as members of the management—people who are responsible for a larger team and have specific business deliverables,” explains Ravishankar. Senior officials, including Ravishankar, are called Jedi Masters. Senior scientists are appropriately designated as Commanders.

In between his meetings and interactions with team members at the integration facility, where Team Indus members are giving last-minute touches to their ‘qualification’ model of the spacecraft, Narayan tells us that their focus is now more on the engineering, design and prototyping of the project. As per Narayan, the qualification model is the second of the three stages in the development of the spacecraft. The first model was the one for which Team Indus won the GLXP Milestone Prize, and is now displayed inside the office complex.

The third and the final phase is the actual build-out. “Right now, we are working on the qualification model, which should be ready by the month-end. We’ll put this model to rigorous tests in the next two-three months and, based on the results, we should be able to build a flight prototype,” says Narayan. After several rounds of tests, the flight prototype will be sent to Isro’s facility, where it will be tested further. By the end of November, the prototype will be shipped to Sriharikota, where it will be tested again before flying out on December 28, he adds.

Costing the moon
Building the final prototype of the spacecraft is, however, the least of Team Indus’ worries at the moment. In the run-up to the moon mission, which has a window of about eight months from now, the start-up has been able to muster only about half of the total cost of the project so far. Even if it goes on to win the grand prize, it will still be a small percentage of the $65 million that the start-up needs for putting its spacecraft on the moon.

Team Indus can’t even look to the government for help. As per the requirements of the XPRIZE contest, 90% of each team’s mission costs must be privately funded. Hence, the start-up had to ‘purchase’ a ride on Isro’s workhorse PSLV, the contract for which was secured by Team Indus in December last year. One of the requirements of the XPRIZE competition also stipulated that the teams must have an official launch contract and that it must be verified by the foundation. After the deal with Isro, Team Indus became the fourth team to receive the coveted seal of approval from the XPRIZE Foundation.

Meanwhile, the PSLV purchase has also set a precedent of sorts. Isro had never sold a dedicated launch vehicle to a private company before. So Team Indus broke new ground here too. Also, it will have access to Isro’s vibration and acoustic test facilities in order to qualify its spacecraft for flight.

“Shortage of funds is always a problem. Time is a constraint too, but the kind of backing we have got so far is quite significant,” says Narayan. “The cost of the whole mission should be around $65 million and we have covered almost half of it. We also have commitment for another one-fourth of the costs. It’s all about converting the money into the mission now. We have about six-seven months in hand and are confident of collecting the rest of the money within that period,” he says.

Help is at hand from some corporates. Among Team Indus’ latest supporters is Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon. Others who have already pledged support include UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani (who in early 2015 came in as an angel investor and adviser), industrialist Ratan Tata, Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, HCL founder Ajai Chowdhry, Sasken Communication founder Rajiv Mody, TVS Group’s Venu Srinivasan, CTS India’s Jagdish Mehta, Aspire Systems’ Gowri Subramanian, Persistent Systems’ Anand Deshpande, and stock investors Rakesh Jhunjhunwla, Ashish Kacholia and RK Damani.

Ravishankar adds: “Most of our technological milestones are all in place and our long list of procurement of items is almost done. So the focus is now on getting as many people as possible onboard. It’s an expensive mission, as it’s completely privately funded, so there is a lot of thought process going into activities to raise funds.” For this to happen, Ravishankar charts the start-up’s next course of action. “We have about three-four ways of raising money. One is equity through which we have managed to raise about 80% of our target. The other is grants and donations. These will come from individuals who want to make sure that the mission happens. They are happy to donate out of their personal endowments or funds, and support us. The third is sponsorships.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The sponsor’s brand can be associated with something that is cutting-edge and taking India to a new future. The fourth can be from individuals with smaller amounts, as part of something like a crowdfunding initiative,” she adds. Team leader Narayan admits that it’s going to be a tight finish. At the same time, he is optimistic about what he is doing. “I think it’s a great opportunity to be the first among the lot to do something like this and that definitely helps our case,” he says.

Indus = SpaceX?
Team Indus is not going to rest on the laurels of the moon mission. Once the contest is over, the start-up hopes to maintain some business in the space industry. “We have built up a capability for designing, prototyping and analysing space-grade technology that could be used to create a business building satellites,” Narayan offers.

That itself is a giant leap for private parties in their quest for space exploration. Team Indus is trying to leverage India’s opportunities in space, just like the US has seen private companies like SpaceX change the industry. Since its founding in 2002, US billionaire Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX, now synonymous with modern-day space exploration, has grown from something of a pipe dream into everyone’s favourite rocket company. Bolstered by big ideas and lucrative client contracts, SpaceX has kickstarted the entrepreneurial space age by lowering launch costs and providing transparent pricing to customers. A concept which Team Indus is now trying to emulate. So can we say that Team Indus is finally India’s answer to the US’ SpaceX? “We are similar to SpaceX, not in terms of money, but in terms of innovation,” co-founder Sridhar Ramasubban was quoted as saying by a media report last year. When asked upfront, team leader Narayan had this to say: “It’s for you to decide.”

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Team Indus headquarters in Bengaluru

Lab2Moon
Team Indus invited youngsters under 25 years of age to imagine, design and build an experiment that will help build sustainable life on the moon. In the first phase of the challenge, the start-up asked participants to send in a concept note and video of the idea. It received 3,000 entries from 15 countries across the globe. In the second phase, Team Indus shortlisted 25 teams, which were asked to build prototypes of their concept and showcase them to the jury at the finals in Bengaluru. Criteria stipulated that the project must be the size of a regular soda can, weigh less than 250 gm and connect to Team Indus’ onboard computer. In March, Team Indus declared Italy-based Team Space4life as the winner

Name on moon
Team Indus has proposed an opportunity to donors to leave their names on the moon. For this, people will have to pay `500. As per the plan, names of donors will be micro-engraved on a small-sized aluminium object and placed on the lunar surface when the spacecraft lands there. The plan is part of a crowdfunding effort and, as per reports, some 10,000 people have already sent in their names. The initiative is looking to raise up to $10 million by getting 1.4 million citizens to back the mission.

Moonshot Wheels
Team Indus started an initiative of teaching rural students about space missions and its lunar landing programme through a travelling bus named ‘Moonshot Wheels’. For this, the company has collaborated with Bengaluru-based not-for-profit Agastya International Foundation. Launched by Tata Group patriarch Ratan Tata on February 7 this year, the bus will cover a distance of over 12,500 km across 11 states in one year. As per estimates, they will be able to interact with over 36,000 students through 16 experiments contained in the bus, including live satellite tracking, models of the spacecraft and lunar rover, among several other scientific wonders. Team Indus’ spacecraft is a ‘quadropod’ weighing 600 kg. It will be housed inside the nose cone of Isro’s PSLV.

How others did it
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Russia (formerly the USSR)
The Soviet Union’s Luna 2 was the first human-made object to reach the surface of the moon on September 13, 1959
In 1966, Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to achieve controlled soft landing, while Luna 10 became the first mission to enter orbit.

The US
The US’ Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the moon on July 20, 1969. In all, there have been six manned US landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings. To date, the US is the only country to have successfully conducted manned missions to the moon, with the last departing lunar surface in December 1972.

Japan
The first spacecraft of the Japanese Lunar Exploration Program, the unmanned lunar orbiter SELENE (Kaguya), was launched on September 14, 2007, after being delayed several times. SELENE-2, Japan’s first lunar lander and rover, is expected to be launched later this year

European Space Agency.
The ESA’s SMART-1 orbiter was launched on September 27, 2003. On September 3, 2006, it was deliberately crashed into the moon’s surface, ending the mission.

China
The first spacecraft of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter, was launched on October 24, 2007, having been delayed from the initial planned dates of April 17-19, 2007. The second orbiter, Chang’e 2, was launched on October 1, 2010. Chang’e 3, which includes a lander and a rover, was launched on December 1, 2013, and soft-landed successfully on the moon on December 14, 2013.

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Nearly two-thirds of the weight at take-off will be of the propellant’s, which will be burned during the journey to the moon after the PSLV injects it into a lower earth orbit

The spacecraft
Team Indus’ spacecraft is a ‘quadropod’ weighing 600 kg. It will be housed inside the nose cone of Isro’s PSLV. The spacecraft will house a main rocket engine, 16 thrusters, a propellant tank, an oxidiser tank, a moon rover codenamed ‘ECA’ (pronounced ‘eeka’, it stands for ‘Ek Chhoti si Asha’), commercial payload, experimental payload and an experimental project designed by young students as part of Team Indus’ Lab2Moon initiative. It will also house a cube with the names of all those who have supported Team Indus n Nearly two-thirds of the weight at take-off will be of the propellant’s, which will be burned during the journey to the moon after the PSLV injects it into a lower earth orbit.

Launch
– The spacecraft will be launched aboard Isro’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on December 28.
-After just 12 minutes of launch, the PSLV will inject the spacecraft into an orbit of 880 km x 70,000 km around earth.
– The spacecraft will orbit the earth two-and-a-half times, raising the apogee—the greatest distance from earth in an elliptical earth orbit—by 10,000 km each time by firing its thrusters.
– A manoeuvre called trans-lunar injection (TLI) follows, which will help the spacecraft escape earth’s gravity and set it in direction of the closest celestial neighbour.
– The spacecraft will reach a peak speed of 10.3 km per second and will take seven-and-a-half days after TLI to reach a distance 100 km from the moon

Touchdown
– About 100 km from the surface of the moon, the spacecraft will decelerate and perform a manoeuvre called ‘Lunar Orbit Capture’, a complicated and extremely difficult series of moves, which would result in the spacecraft being caught by the moon’s gravity and settling into orbit around it.
– At an opportune time, optimised to make sure that the soft-landing coincides with the lunar dawn (so as to make the most of the lunar day during the mission), the spacecraft’s thrusters will be fired to decelerate and decrease the orbit closer to the surface of the moon.
– Landing is completely autonomous and will be controlled by a software onboard the spacecraft, which would use data collected from laser sensors to guide the spacecraft, as it decelerates and descends.
– The landing site is called ‘Mare Imbrium’—Latin for ‘sea of showers’—a vast dusty plain on the moon
– Team Indus is planning to make the soft landing on January 26, 2018, a feat only three countries have accomplished so far.
– Once the spacecraft touches down, it will first connect back to earth, then deploy a rover and beam back high-definition lunar images.

Money matters
- Team Indus’ high-profile investors include industrialist Ratan Tata
– As per estimates, the overall moon mission will cost Team Indus about $75 million (approximately 485 crore)
- If it wins, it will get the grand prize of $20 million (roughly`129 crore), while the runner-up team will get $5 million (roughly 32 crore)
- The start-up’s high-profile investors so far include former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani, industrialist Ratan Tata and Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal
– Other top investors include HCL founder Ajai Chowdhry, Sasken Communication founder Rajiv Mody and TVS Group’s Venu Srinivasan
- Team Indus has received funding from Jagdish Mehta of CTS India, Aspire Systems’ Gowri Subramanian and Persistent Systems’ Anand Deshpande, among many others
- In the latter part of 2016, three major stock investors—Rakesh Jhunjhunwla, Ashish Kacholia and RK Damani—picked up stake in Team Indus

Website: http://www.financialexpress.com/india-n ... on/647512/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 04 May 2017 23:13

Global Superpowers Are Racing to Build a Base on the Moon
by Neil C. Bhavsar, Christianna Reedy Futurism.com May 03, 2017

Image
Credit: Shutterstock/Pavel Chagochkin

In Brief
The Chinese National Space Administration has publicly announced a partnership with the European Space Agency on developing a lunar base. This collaboration could lead to shared projects in the future.

Today's Race To Space
It seems that the modern age’s space race is here, and all sights are set on the Moon. But this time, the goal isn’t just to get an astronaut onto Earth’s natural satellite, but instead space agencies around the world are coming together to build a human outpost. Some of the biggest players hail from China and Europe, and their respective space agencies have announced that they are engaging in international collaboration to realize a “Moon Village” vision.

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The Race for a Moon Base: Who Will Build the First Lunar Colony?

Even though China’s space program is relatively new compared to other space programs developed by the world’s superpowers, the China’s space agency has quickly proven itself since its first manned spaceflight in 2003. Currently, the country’s National Space Administration (CNSA) is aiming to collect samples from the Moon by the end of this year while also conducting a mission to the far side of the Moon to bring back additional samples sometime next year.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has been paying close attention to China’s progress, with the ESA looking toward to future collaboration by calling for joint proposals since 2014. All this cooperation would explain the remarks about a shared lunar base on Chinese state media by China’s space agency’s secretary general, Tian Yulong, which was later confirmed by Pal Hvistendahl, an ESA spokesperson.

Mutual Benefit
When it comes to international collaboration, we are all left with a net-positive outcome. Some classic examples of this include the International Space Station, with eleven member states, and CERN’s Large Hardon Collider, which is utilized by 22 member states. Both enormous projects built on the international brotherhood that has propelled us forward in space commercialization, humanitarian aid, vaccine development, and more.

But aside from technological advances, we see the power of scientific collaboration to deconstruct societal barriers. Borders become bridges and science sparks conversations. Maybe the United States will take hints from the ESA’s commitment to China.

Currently, it’s illegal for NASA scientists to collaborate with any Chinese state employees on issues related to space. This is also the reason that Chinese astronauts cannot visit the ISS. But, perhaps the prospects of a lunar base could change that, as a lunar base would give us a great jumping off point for deep space exploration, mineral excavation, and low-orbit space commercialization.

References: The Independent, European Space Agency and NASA

Website: https://futurism.com/global-superpowers ... -the-moon/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 10 May 2017 07:24

Ahead of launch, Team Indus over the moon
by Koushik Narayanan THE HINDU May 06, 2017

Members interact with city students on their lunar mission
Over the next few months, members of Team Indus, the Bengaluru-based startup that will send a privately funded spacecraft to the moon this year, will tour the country and visit over 36,000 schools to raise awareness about their mission.

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Key People of Team Indus Credit: Newser

Last year, the team won USD 1 million prize in the Google Lunar XPrize where they presented a viable concept for a moon lander. The ‘Moonshot Wheels’ campaign, will consist of a mobile vehicle that will tour the country to educate children about astronomy and space.

On Saturday, the team members interacted with several students at Jakkur where they displayed life-size models of the spacecraft, landers, rovers, and the ground control systems. These are designed and run by students from the team with the assistance of mentors. Srinivasa Hegde, then mission director of Chandrayaan-1, who now mentors the team, was present, and said he was confident of the mission being a huge success.

The startup is the only Indian aspirant and among four from across the world that plans to send a spacecraft to soft-land on the moon before December 2017. Once it reaches the lunar surface, the spacecraft will deploy a rover and send pictures to Earth. According to the team, the company has almost finished building its 600-kg-plus moon lander. It plans to launch it on a hired PSLV rocket of ISRO.

Visitors also got a chance to hear about a few of the experiments that the rover will carry on-board its journey. Discussing the challenges faced in the project, a member, who worked on building the all-terrain rover code named ECA, said: “It’s truly been a remarkable journey. We overcame challenges from the start and fought our way forward to complete this dream project.”

The team, which believes in the motto ‘Har-Indian-Ka-Moon-Shot’, wants to tell the student community that it is possible for youngsters to contribute to space research. The team also put forward an offer. By paying ₹500, you can have your name micro-engraved on an aluminium plate, which will be placed on the moon.

Website: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/k ... 401915.ece

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 12 May 2017 22:39

Chinese students to test lunar simulator for a year
by PTI The Economic Times May 11, 2017

BEIJING: Chinese students will live in a 'Lunar Palace' - a cabin that simulates a Moon-like environment - for a year, to test a life-support system that may allow future astronauts to spend longer periods of time in space.

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The latest test is vital to the future of China's Moon and Mars missions and must be relied upon to guarantee the safety and health of our astronauts Credit: derStandard

Eight postgraduate students from Beihang University in China are divided into two groups. The first four have already stepped into the cabin called 'Yuegong-1' (Lunar Palace-1). They will stay there for 60 days, before being replaced by a second group who will stay there for 200 days.

After that, the first group will return to the cabin for the remaining 105 days. The experiment, code-named "Yuegong-365," is the university's second attempt to see how the Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS) works in a Moon-like environment after a successful 105-day trial was conducted in 2014.

The BLSS is a system where animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist. Water and food can be recycled in the system, creating an Earth-like environment.

"The latest test is vital to the future of China's Moon and Mars missions and must be relied upon to guarantee the safety and health of our astronauts," said Liu Zhiheng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Yuegong-1" consists of a major living space and two plant cabins or greenhouses, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The major cabin covers 42 square metres, the size of a very small urban apartment, while each of the plant cabins is 3.5 metres high and 50 to 60 square metres in area.

The major cabin hosts four bed cubicles, a common room, a washroom, a waste-treatment room and an animal-raising room. The system allows four "astronauts" to conduct research while their basic needs are met. The purpose of the programme is to test the stability of the BLSS when astronauts with different metabolic rates take turns to live in the cabin and when they face sudden situations such as blackouts, said Liu Hong, chief designer of of Yuegong-1.

Website: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/new ... 628135.cms

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 13 May 2017 10:45

IIA, Team Indus take an X-PRIZE Shot With LUCI
by Hemanth C S Bangalore Mirror Bureau May 13, 2017

A team of students from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) here has developed a telescope called the Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager (LUCI), which will be onboard city-based startup Team Indus’s spacecraft to the moon.

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A telescope deep image shows the nebula (cyan) extending across 2 million light-years Credit: Daily Mail

The IIA team has collaborated with Team Indus, and the telescope will be part of the Indian entry into the Google X-Prize competition to send a rover to the moon.

Team Indus is among the five teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition challenging privately funded teams to land a spacecraft on the moon. The startup is building a spacecraft, which will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organi­sation (Isro) in December.

LUCI will be mounted on the lunar lander developed by Team Indus and will survey the sky from the surface of the moon. The main objective of the 1.2 kg LUCI telescope will be to focus on bright Ultraviolet (UV) sources that are not accessible by the more sensitive large space missions.

“We want to scan the sky in the UV domain from the lunar surface. Observations from the moon provide a unique opportunity to observe the sky. 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,” said Joice Mathew , a member of the IIA team.

The project for developing the telescope started in 2013 and is funded by the department of science and technology. The IIA plans to deliver the telescope by September to Team Indus, three months before the launch of the spacecraft onboard Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

“One of the biggest challenges for the team was to develop a very compact payload, weighing just 1.2 kg. Now that we have been successful in achieving it, the structural qualification of the payload will happen this month and then, we will deliver the telescope by September,” said Mathew.

Website: http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/b ... 649986.cms

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 13 May 2017 15:15

Naveen Jain: ‘If we can learn to live on the moon we can live anywhere in space’
by Helena Vieira LSE Business Review May 11, 2017

The co-founder and executive chairman of MoonExpress talks about the business possibilities in space exploration
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Naveen Jain is the co-founder and executive chairman of Moon Express, one of the four enterprises vying for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The project, also called Moon 2.0, offers a $20 million prize for the first privately-developed spacecraft to land on the moon, travel at least 500 meters across its surface, and transmit photos and video. Moon Express bought three launches for its spacecraft from Rocket Lab. It must launch by the end of 2017.

LSE Business Review’s managing editor Helena Vieira caught up with Jain during the Collision tech conference last week in New Orleans. He predicts that private companies will be offering many consumer and industrial services from the moon in the next couple of decades, including tourism, games and mining. “Entrepreneurs are now doing things that used to be done by the state,” he says. “In the next 20 years, people will be going to the moon just like they go to Sydney… not very often, but they do go.”

What exactly is Moon Express here to do?
Our long-term goal is to be able to save humanity from extinction because it’s only a matter of when, not if, that we’re going to become dinosaurs, sooner or later. We’re on this spacecraft called Earth that is flying around space naked and it’s a dangerous place out there. If we get hit by an asteroid, we will all essentially get wiped out. And if you don’t believe me, ask any dinosaur.

There’s a survivalist movement in Silicon Valley. People are buying land in New Zealand and elsewhere, but your idea is to establish humanity on the moon?
Yes, and I say the moon but in the long term there’s Mars and some other places. The problems of living on the moon are very similar to the problems on Mars, for example: they have very high radiation, none has much of an atmosphere, they experience extremely low gravity and a very wide difference in temperature between night and day. If we can learn to live on the moon we can essentially apply that learning to Mars and… truth be told, you’d rather be a lunatic three days away than being a Martian six months away.

So the idea is that you would live in capsules?
In the beginning you would need to do a transition, you could live in the biosphere, in the moon’s lava tubes, but in the long term, and as crazy as this may sound, nature is an unbelievable innovator, whether we like it or not… Nature has created these bacterial organisms that will not only survive in the radioactive nuclear waste, they will thrive in there. What nature figured out is that they can create the DNA and genetics that will survive radiation and use it as a source of energy. And we know of this technology called CRISPR and already now even in the UK it’s being tried in embryos. And what if we can pick those genes from these bacteria and make humans that not only survive radiation, they use radiation as a source of energy…

Our goal is to work in the process, in the beginning to bootstrap the process of how to live there… Can we start to bring resources back from the moon to bootstrap the process? Can we start to create some type of smaller tourism, or even a small settlement, so that taking your honey to the moon becomes your honeymoon? Or moon rocks could replace diamonds. Everyone gives someone a diamond. If you love her enough you give her the moon.

How is your company going to make money, especially in the early stages?
We make money in this particular case in many different ways. We dig stuff up, we use the stuff there to create the infrastructure and we bring the stuff down. Ah, and we create the infrastructure in the moon to help everyone else essentially build other companies. So for example… using the water on the moon you can create a fuel depot there. By taking the stuff from here, for instance, scientific instruments, a telescope, that allow people to take pictures, that’s another way of doing it. You can do a lot of consumer centred things.

It’s an interesting thing to think that when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone he went to you and asked, “Helena, what kind of applications would you like on this phone?” You wouldn’t have said “Steve, you know what I’d love? I’d love to throw birds against pigs.” And that’s Angry Birds. People just sat there for hours throwing birds against pigs. Pokemon Go did more for kids walking outside the house than any parent could have ever done. So what is the Pokemon Go of the moon that would recapture people’s imagination? Someone is going to do that. Could that be putting a newborn child’s footprint on the moon using PinArt? You put the PinArt here, step and boom, your footprint will be on the moon for $99 dollars. You can send a message in a time capsule for 99 cents. You could send a picture of your family for $4.95. For 10 dollars you could send a 30-second video of whatever makes you who you are… and even if all you want to say is F*** Trump, so be it…

What kind of resources would you bring back from the moon, would you start mining there?
Mining is just the wrong term because you’re not really mining so to say. What’s interesting about the moon is that it has been collecting asteroidal material for the last billions of years. With naked eyes you can see the crater sites. That means asteroids have been coming and crashing there and all the asteroidal riches are right on the surface of the moon, solidified. All you do is collect those things. What are those? Platinum grade material, that is, platinum, gold, silver, all the rare earth elements, but the most important part of the thing really comes from solar radiation. It’s called helium-3. A small quantity of helium-3 could power this planet. So, it’s an isotope of helium which produces a completely clean energy source in a fusion reactor and the output of that is non radioactive. No radioactivity at all. So it completely changes renewable energy. Stepping back, that’s what I was saying: entrepreneurs are now doing things that used to be done by the state, countries and nation states. Imagine that when we land on the moon we will be the first private company ever to do that. And you know we are the only company in the universe that has a permission to land on the moon. And when we land we become the fourth superpower.

When are you going to land on the moon?
This year, November or December. You didn’t say “Holy S***, can you believe you’re landing on the moon?” Instead you ask “Which month? And by the way what are you bringing, and how much?” This conversation has become normal. And the reason it has become normal is that we have shown that these kinds of things are possible.

Do you think we may find the cure to diseases on the moon?
It’s not the moon, even here on earth. The idea is to solve all the different problems. The beauty of the moon is that there are certain drugs you can do on the moon that you can’t do on earth, because when you have lower gravity things crystallise very differently in low gravity than in high gravity.

What is the goal of the first mission?
Like any other technological company, you need to prove that all the things that you’re developing work. So what are we doing? We’re building an autonomous spacecraft. Just like an autonomous car. You don’t just walk and say “Sure, Helena, go for it and please be safe.” What do we say? “Let’s go and make sure we’ve tested it with no humans, make sure we keep testing it.” So the first thing is to make sure our software is working, our hardware is working. You can’t control it from here, because when it’s going down, it had better know what it’s doing, how fast it’s going, what’s going on, and everything has to be autonomous. So the first mission is to simply test the hardware and software, hop around the moon, we know what we’re looking for, to be able to go and see if we can collect that stuff, understand it.

Are you going to the moon?
Well, it’s only a matter of time. I’d say it will be a routine thing to do in the next 20 years. People will be going to the moon just like they go to Sydney: not very often, but they do go.

It sounds really scary…It only sounds scary. Remember 40, 50 years ago… people didn’t travel by plane, because you know what they used to say? ‘Have a safe flight”. As if it were too dangerous for you to be doing it. Even today, what do you say when people travel? ‘Have a safe flight.’ When was the last time you heard of an airplane crashing?

Well, it does happen. Not very often, but it does. One in a million or one in a billion? So that’s the thing…You know people say, “I’d never trust a robot to do certain things for me…” When you fly, do you know who’s flying the plane? Artificial intelligence, robots. When you get your dishes clean, who’s doing that? That’s a robot.

You chose the moon because SpaceX is going to Mars?
No. We chose to go to the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s a good business.

Oh I never thought it was easy…You’re missing the point here. This is John F Kennedy’s quote. Rephrasing JFK here. He said: ‘We chose to go to the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard’ And I said let’s rephrase him: “We chose to go to the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s good business’.

Note:
This Q&A is the first in a series of 11 interviews done with tech leaders during the Collision conference in New Orleans, 2-4 May 2017.
The post gives the views of the interviewee, not the position of LSE Business Review or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Website: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2 ... -in-space/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 17 May 2017 09:11

Mining the moon for rocket fuel to get us to Mars
by Gary Li, Danielle DeLatte, Jerome Gilleron, Samuel Wald, Therese Jones Theconversation.com May 15, 2017

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Between the Earth and the moon: An artist’s rendering of a refueling depot for deep-space exploration. Sung Wha Kang (RISD), CC BY-ND

Forty-five years have passed since humans last set foot on an extraterrestrial body. Now, the moon is back at the center of efforts not only to explore space, but to create a permanent, independent space-faring society. Planning expeditions to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor is no longer just a NASA effort, though the U.S. space agency has plans for a moon-orbiting space station that would serve as a staging ground for Mars missions in the early 2030s. The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is planning a lunar fueling station for spacecraft, capable of supporting 1,000 people living in space within 30 years.

Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Robert Bigelow all have companies aiming to deliver people or goods to the moon. Several teams competing for a share of Google’s US$30 million cash prize are planning to launch rovers to the moon.

We and 27 other students from around the world recently participated in the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge, proposing designs of what a lunar launch and supply station for deep space missions might look like, and how it would work.

The raw materials for rocket fuel
Right now all space missions are based on, and launched from, Earth. But Earth’s gravitational pull is strong. To get into orbit, a rocket has to be traveling 11 kilometers a second – 25,000 miles per hour!

Any rocket leaving Earth has to carry all the fuel it will ever use to get to its destination and, if needed, back again. That fuel is heavy – and getting it moving at such high speeds takes a lot of energy. If we could refuel in orbit, that launch energy could lift more people or cargo or scientific equipment into orbit. Then the spacecraft could refuel in space, where Earth’s gravity is less powerful. The moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth, which makes it an attractive alternative base. The moon also has ice, which we already know how to process into a hydrogen-oxygen propellant that we use in many modern rockets.

Roving Luna
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite missions have already found substantial amounts of ice in permanently shadowed craters on the moon. Those locations would be tricky to mine because they are colder and offer no sunlight to power roving vehicles. However, we could install big mirrors on the craters’ rims to illuminate solar panels in the permanently shadowed regions.

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Mining operations on the moon, an artist’s rendering. Sung Wha Kang (RISD), CC BY-ND

Rovers from Google’s Lunar X Prize competition and NASA’s Lunar Resource Prospector, set to launch in 2020, would also contribute to finding good locations to mine ice.

Imagining a moon base
Depending on where the best ice reserves are, we might need to build several small robotic moon bases. Each one would mine ice, manufacture liquid propellant and transfer it to passing spacecraft. Our team developed plans to accomplish those tasks with three different types of rovers. Our plans also require a few small robotic shuttles to meet up with nearby deep-space mission vehicles in lunar orbit.

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An artist’s rendering of lunar rover concepts. Sung Wha Kang (RISD), CC BY-ND

One rover, which we call the Prospector, would explore the moon and find ice-bearing locations. A second rover, the Constructor, would follow along behind, building a launch pad and packing down roadways to ease movements for the third rover type, the Miners, which actually collect the ice and deliver it to nearby storage tanks and an electrolysis processing plant that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The Constructor would also build a landing pad where the small near-moon transport spacecraft we call Lunar Resupply Shuttles would arrive to collect fuel for delivery as newly launched spacecraft pass by the moon. The shuttles would burn moon-made fuel and would have advanced guidance and navigation systems to travel between lunar bases and their target spacecraft.

A gas station in space
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When enough fuel is being produced, and the shuttle delivery system is tested and reliable, our plan calls for building a gas station in space. The shuttles would deliver ice directly to the orbiting fuel depot, where it would be processed into fuel and where rockets heading to Mars or elsewhere could dock to top up.

The depot would have large solar arrays powering an electrolysis module for melting the ice and then turning the water into fuel, and large fuel tanks to store what’s made. NASA is already working on most of the technology needed for a depot like this, including docking and fuel transfer. We anticipate a working depot could be ready in the early 2030s, just in time for the first human missions to Mars.

To be most useful and efficient, the depot should be located in a stable orbit relatively near both the Earth and the moon. The Earth-moon Lagrangian Point 1 (L1) is a point in space about 85 percent of the way from Earth to the moon, where the force of Earth’s gravity would exactly equal the force of the moon’s gravity pulling in the other direction. It’s the perfect pit stop for a spacecraft on its way to Mars or the outer planets.

Leaving Earth
Our team also found a fuel-efficient way to get spacecraft from Earth orbit to the depot at L1, requiring even less launch fuel and freeing up more lift energy for cargo items. First, the spacecraft would launch from Earth into Low Earth Orbit with an empty propellant tank.

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An artist’s rendering of a solar electric propulsion tug above an asteroid. NASA

Then, the spacecraft and its cargo could be towed from Low Earth Orbit to the depot at L1 using a solar electric propulsion tug, a spacecraft largely propelled by solar-powered electric thrusters. This would let us triple the payload delivery to Mars. At present, a human Mars mission is estimated to cost as much as US$100 billion, and will need hundreds of tons of cargo. Delivering more cargo from Earth to Mars with fewer rocket launches would save billions of dollars and years of time.

A base for space exploration
Building a gas station between Earth and the moon would also reduce costs for missions beyond Mars. NASA is looking for extraterrestrial life on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. Future spacecraft could carry much more cargo if they could refuel in space – who knows what scientific discoveries sending large exploration vehicles to these moons could enable?

By helping us escape both Earth’s gravity and dependence on its resources, a lunar gas station could be the first small step toward the giant leap into making humanity an interplanetary civilization.

Note:
Gary Li receives funding from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).
Danielle DeLatte receives funding from the University of Tokyo.
Jerome Gilleron is a member of Space Generation Advisory Council.
Therese Jones receives funding from the Homeland Security Operations and Analysis Center and the National Defense Research Institute. She is affiliated with RAND.
Samuel Wald does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Website: https://theconversation.com/mining-the- ... mars-76123

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 17 May 2017 17:11

Bharat, is the issue of funding for this mission more or less settled, or is it ongoing? India Today recently referred to the company trying to raise funds from the public.

For me( and I am sure for many others) what is simply astonishing, is that India is going to have 2 moon missions within the span of about 4 months. Indus via PSLV in December, and ISRO with Chandrayaan-2 using GSLV in March or April, 2018.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 17 May 2017 23:06

Varoon Shekhar wrote:Bharat, is the issue of funding for this mission more or less settled, or is it ongoing? India Today recently referred to the company trying to raise funds from the public.
For me( and I am sure for many others) what is simply astonishing, is that India is going to have 2 moon missions within the span of about 4 months. Indus via PSLV in December, and ISRO with Chandrayaan-2 using GSLV in March or April, 2018.

Varoon, I put your query to the team indus, and below is the response.

"It is true that there will be 2 missions from India with ISRO scheduled to launch Chandrayaan-2 and TeamIndus looking to put it's private spacecraft on the Moon. As to the fundraising, we haven't yet raised the required amount to fulfill the mission. We are looking at multiple options to fund the mission, one of which is exploring funding from the public however we haven't yet opened this up."

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 21 May 2017 17:07

Jeff Bezos lays out his vision for building a city on the moon, complete with robots
by Alan Boyle Geekwire.com May 20, 2017

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Artist’s concept shows Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander on the lunar surface. (Blue Origin Illustration)

SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk may have his heart set on building a city on Mars, but Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space vision looks closer to home. He’s gazing at the moon.

“I think we should build a permanent human settlement on one of the poles of the moon,” Bezos said today during a Q&A with kids at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. “It’s time to go back to the moon, but this time to stay.”

Bezos has talked about moon missions before, and he’s even told NASA that his Blue Origin space venture could make Amazon-like deliveries to the moon, as part of a program called Blue Moon.

Today he went into more detail about his space aspirations when students asked him questions at the Museum of Flight’s “Apollo” exhibit. Bezos’ backdrop for the event included the decades-old pieces of Saturn V rocket engines that he arranged to have recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, plus an intact, never-flown engine of the same type.

Bezos said his dreams of spaceflight were fostered at the age of 5 when he watched NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong take humanity’s first steps on the moon in 1969. Now he’s able to follow through on those dreams – in large part because of the success of Amazon, the online retail company he founded in 1994. A couple of months ago, Bezos acknowledged that he’s funding Blue Origin to the tune of a billion dollars a year, fueled by his sales of Amazon stock.


Jeff Bezos lays out a plan for settling the moon

Blue Origin is ramping up its employment count and making progress on two big projects: the New Shepard suborbital spaceship, which has made five successful test flights to space and back; and the New Glenn orbital rocket, which will make use of Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine. New Shepard could start flying passengers as early as next year, which would provide opportunities for suborbital space experiments as well as space tourism.

“There’s a long history of tourism and entertainment driving innovations in technology,” Bezos pointed out. For example, barnstorming and joyrides helped sustain pilots and airplane-makers in the early days of aviation. Today, advances in machine learning, computer vision and artificial intelligence are being driven by improvements in graphics processing units, or GPUs.

“Why were GPUs invented? For one purpose, and one purpose only: They were invented by Nvidia for playing video games,” Bezos said. On the orbital front, Blue Origin is currently testing the BE-4 engine and building a multimillion-dollar production facility and launch center in Florida to accommodate New Glenn rockets.

“That vehicle will fly in in 2020 for the first time,” Bezos said. Blue Origin already has lined up its first customers for New Glenn satellite launches in the early 2020s.


Introducing New Glenn

Bezos is clearly thinking about frontiers beyond Earth orbit: When asked about the potential impact of artificial intelligence on space operations, he said AI will point the way for “even better robotic probes to explore the solar system.”

Today, Mars rovers have to wait for detailed instructions from mission controllers on Earth on how to avoid that potential hazards they come across. “That’s one of the reasons that you get to cover very little ground with those rovers,” Bezos said.

“But if you had really good self-driving technology, machine vision and other things, those rovers could keep themselves safe and they could go faster and explore much more in a given amount of time,” he said.

They could also help build that city on the moon.

“There, you would want to pre-position a whole bunch of equipment and supplies before the humans show up, and some of those things might need to be assembled on the surface of the moon,” Bezos said. “And that’s the kind of thing that could also be done by advanced robotics with machine-learning systems on board.”


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Jeff Bezos talks with students at the opening of the “Apollo” exhibit at the Museum of Flight. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Bezos noted that the moon’s polar regions would be the best places to build a base, because some craters in those regions are thought to contain reserves of water ice that are shielded from sunlight. That ice could be converted into liquid water for drinking, hydrogen for fuel, and oxygen for breathable air. During past talks, Blue Origin executives have made clear that it expects lunar settlements to be created as the result of private-public collaboration, rather than purely private-sector or purely NASA-funded undertakings.

Why go to the moon? Almost 55 years ago, President John Kennedy said America chose to embark on missions to the moon “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” Bezos’ moon ambitions are motivated by more down-to-earth considerations: He argues that in order to keep up with a global population’s growing demands for energy and manufactured goods, we earthlings will eventually have to take advantage of resources and territories beyond Earth.

“I want to see millions of people living and working in space,” said Bezos, repeating what has become a mantra for Blue Origin. Love space and science? Sign up for our GeekWire Space & Science email newsletter for top headlines from Alan Boyle, GeekWire’s aerospace and science editor.

Note:
GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle is an award-winning science writer and veteran space reporter. Formerly of NBCNews.com, he is the author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference."

Website: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/jeff-bezo ... igin-moon/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 30 May 2017 23:00

All you need to know about Chandrayaan-2, ISRO’s second mission to the moon
by Aditya Madanapalle Tech.firstpost.com May 26, 2017

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In October 2008, ISRO launched the Chandrayaan-1 mission on board a PSLV rocket. There were two payloads, a lunar orbiter and a lunar impactor. The impactor disturbed the surface at the landing site, and collected samples for analysis. The impactor also enabled India to become the fourth country to put its flag on the Moon, after the US, the former Soviet Union and Japan.

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The Chandrayaan-1 mission taking off on with the PSLV-C11 launch. Image: ISRO

The orbiter encountered a series of technical problems, including malfunctions of its star sensors and the thermal shielding. ISRO lost contact to the spacecraft well before the planned mission duration of two years. However, the orbiter still managed to fulfill most of the goals of the mission, and even managed to find Ice in the north pole of the Moon.

In March 2017, NASA used new and more precise ground based radar to track down ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, still going in circles around the Moon. Madhavan Nair, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation hailed NASA for finding the lost spacecraft.

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A 3D map of Clavius created using observations obtained by Chandrayaan-1. Clavius is the third biggest crater on the visible side of the Moon. Image: ISRO

Even before the launch of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, ISRO was already making plans for the follow up Chandrayaan-2 mission. In September 2008 itself, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was approved by the government for a cost of Rs 425 crore. The budget does not include the cost of the GSLV launch vehicle, or the lander. The mission is an important step in India’s plans for planetary exploration, a program known as Planetary Science and Exploration (PLANEX).

ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar revealed to reporters the timing of the Chandraayaan-2 mission during an event that announced details of the South Asia Satellite, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project and India’s gift to neighbouring countries. When asked about the Chandrayaan-2 mission, Kumar said, “We are targeting first quarter of 2018 for the launch.”

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ISRO chairman Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar. Image: ISRO

Chandrayaan-2 Overview
India’s second mission to the moon is more advanced than the first. There are three components of the mission, an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The rocket ISRO is planning to use for Chandrayaan-2 is a GSLV MKII, and will take off from the space agency’s launch facility at the Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR) in the first few months of 2018.

The orbiter will be deployed at an altitude of 100 kilometers above the surface of the Moon. The lander will then separate from the orbiter, and execute a soft landing on the surface of the Moon, unlike the previous mission which crash landed near the lunar south pole. ISRO is in the process of testing the actuators and sensors for the soft landing. A rover will then explore the surface. The lander, rover and orbiter will perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.

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An image of the lunar surface captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) from Chandrayaan-1. The craters on the lunar surface are simulated in a test facility for the Chandrayaan-2 mission lander. The Chandrayaan-2 mission is being tested at an ISRO facility in Chitradurga, Karnataka. Artificial craters have been created for the Lander Sensors Performance Test. Drop tests for the lander, and mobility tests for the rover are also being conducted at the facility. The six wheeled rover is going to be semi-autonomous, and its movements will be partially controlled by ISRO stations on Earth.

The Russian Connection
In 2007, ISRO signed an agreement with Russia, to get technical support for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. According to the agreement, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was supposed to be a joint project between ISRO, and the Russian space agency, ROSCOSMOS. As part of the agreement, Russia would provide the lander and rover parts of the mission, while India would be responsible for the orbiter. The mission was originally planned for 2015.

In 2011, the Phobos-Grunt, a Russian sample return mission to one of the two moons of Mars failed. The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft was launched along with the Yinghuo-1, meant to be the first Chinese spacecraft to go to Mars. The mission failed, and the two spacecraft ended up in the Pacific Ocean. Russia began a review of the mission, and the future of the Chandrayaan-2 mission depended on that review.

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The Phobos-Grunt probe. Image: NASA

Russia pointed out that there was a high risk of failure if the rover went up in 2015, and asked India to supply the rover component. ISRO had already been conducting some prelimnary tests for indigenous rovers, and had proven its capabilities with the Impactor in the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

As a result, ISRO undertook a review of the entire Chandrayaan-2 mission. The integrated review recommended that India could provide both the lander as well as the rover components, given a few years. The orbiter was reconfigured to accommodate the Indian made lander and rover, and the particular scientific payloads on board were finalised.

In August 2013, in a letter responding to a question raised at the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy said: “Chandrayaan-2 would be a lone mission by India without Russian tie-up.” Russia is still involved in minor ways with the mission though. A Russian company, Isotope, has provided a Cm-244 alpha-emitter for one of the scientific instruments on board the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

The Orbiter
The Orbiter and the Lander will be stacked together and will be injected into an “Earth Parking Orbit”. After going around the Earth several times, the Orbiter will be inserted into an extremely elliptical Lunar orbit, which will be reduced to 100 km over the surface of the moon after a number of orbits. The orbiter will carry the Lander, with the Rover on board, from Earth orbit to Moon orbit. The orbiter will survey the landing site before deploying the lander.

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The Chandrayaan-2 mission profile. Image: ISRO

The primary structure of the orbiter has been constructed, and has been delivered to the integration team in 2015 itself. The integration teams adds in all the components, scientific payloads and sensors to the orbiter. The actual payloads are an effort that involves many facilities across the nation, and are expected to be integrated in the first quarter of 2017. The interface between the orbiter and the launch vehicle has also been completed.

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How the orbiter and the lander will be stacked. Image: ISRO

The Lander
The configuration of the Lander for a soft and safe landing on the Lunar surface has been completed. The payload configuration, and the manner in which the Lander will be attached to the Orbiter has been finalised. The lander craft will have a propulsion system on board, which will de-boost the spacecraft during the surface landing.

The lander also has legs, which will deploy during the landing. The legs have been engineered, and drop tests on a single leg conducted. A facility has been established at the Lunar Test Facility in Chitradurga, just for further drop tests of the lander legs.

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A crater in Chitradurga, part of a testbed for the Chandrayaan-2 mission

The lander will have on board a radio altimeter, a pattern detection camera and a laser inertial reference and accelerometer package (LIRAP). These three components have already been tested. A system demonstration module (SDM) for evaluation the propulsion system on the lander, the Lander Actuator Performance TEST (LSPT) and the electrical packages for the Lander are in the advanced stages of realization.

The Rover
The Rover is a six wheeled vehicle that will have on board software that will allow it to roam the surface of the moon in a semi-autonomous manner. ISRO will be providing partial command and control instructions from the ground.

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The rover undergoing terrain tests in Bengaluru. Image: ISRO

The rover has on board a navigation camera, an inclinometer, and a dedicated imager for capturing pictures of the lunar surface. The three systems have been tested and integrated. The rover will transmit back data from the lunar surface, but there are no plans to actually collect samples of soil, rock or moondust.

The Rover is being tested at a special facility in Bengaluru, where ISRO has created the kind of soft soil with fine particles that is expected to be on the Moon. Tests are underway to evaluate the way in which the wheels of the rover interact with the soil.

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Image: ISRO

Components and Scientific Payloads
The bits and pieces that make up the Chandrayaan-2 mission come from various ISRO and government facilities around the country. The Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), is an autonomous unit under the department of space in Ahmedabad. PRL is actively participating in ISRO’s PLANEX mission, and is developing several of the scientific payloads to be used in the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

One of the two instruments on board the rover to analyse rock and soil samples on the lunar surface is known as the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). The PRL is developing and testing the APXS, which uses X-rays to analyse the samples.

The Space Astronomy Group (SAG) at ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bengaluru is developing a Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. The Space Physics Laboratory (SPL) in Thiruvananthapuram is developing three payloads for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. These are the CHandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2), Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiments (ChaSTE), and Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hyper Atmosphere and ionosphere (RAMBHA).

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A mobility test of the rover. Image: ISRO

The Systems Reliability Group is a part of the Space Application Centre (SAC), which has its headquarters in Ahmedabad, and is responsible for development and testing of the camera module on the Rover. The same facility is also responsible for creation of the software to be used on the rover. The software includes the capabilities for the rover to operate in a semi-autonomous fashion.

The Aerial Services & Digital Mapping Area (AS&DMA) is a part of the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO. The facility specialises in end to end cutting edge solutions for aerial photography. The AS&DMA is conducting airborne tests in Chitradurga for over the simulated lunar terrain with artificial craters, for some sensors proposed to be included on board the lander.

Partners from the private industry have provided some of the sensors and optics on board the Chandrayaan-2.

The mission is entirely indigenous, and is more of a technological mission than a scientific one. The primary goal is to test the soft landing capabilities, as well as the semi-autonomous movement of the Rover. The mission has deepened the links between the space agency and the private industry, and has fostered the creation of many new indigenous technologies. The Chandrayaan-2 mission will allow ISRO to take its scientific studies of the moon to the next level. The scientific goals of the mission include analysing the surface samples, and to learn more about the origin and evolution of the Moon.

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ECA, the TeamIndus Rover. Image: TeamIndus.

Before Chandrayaan-2, ISRO has another exciting Indian moon mission scheduled. At the end of 2017 team Hakuto from Japan and Team Indus from India will both make an attempt at the Lunar XPRIZE by landing a rover on the moon. The two teams will rideshare on an ISRO PSLV rocket scheduled for a December 2017 launch. The first private Indian company to reach the moon is expected to do so just before Republic Day, 2018.

Website: http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis ... 78453.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 01 Jun 2017 07:01

Israel reaches for the skies and the moon
by Ferry Biedermann CNBC June 01, 2017

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Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. is photographed walking near the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 mission. Credit: NASA/Getty Images

A telltale white plume streaked across the sky over Israel Monday morning, revealing the country's latest missile test. No announcement was made on what propulsion system was tested but experts say it was for an intercontinental ballistic missile or a missile defense rocket. Either way, it was a manifestation of Israel's activity in aerospace, a field in which it is developing significant new capabilities, including in the commercial sector.

The country has developed missile systems, such as the Jericho and the Shavit, which has been used to launch its own military satellites into space, anti-missile systems such as the Iron Dome and the Arrow, and is dominating the international export market for military drones.

One man who sits at the nexus of Israel's space and drone industries is Yariv Bash, co-founder of SpaceIL, the organization that seeks to put Israel on the moon, and CEO of drone startup Flytrex.

With the latter he's seeking to put into place complete solutions for automated drone delivery. While the former, SpaceIL, is a finalist, one of only five in the world, in Google's Lunar X Prize competition for a privately funded moon landing. Bash spoke to CNBC about his passion for all things flying and how he expects the aerospace industry in Israel to develop.

"I like to say that I found other people to pay for my hobbies. Seeing something hover above you in the air or seeing a spacecraft leaving the atmosphere, these are two of the most amazing feats you can do as an engineer."

What does Flytrex do, what are you currently capable of?
"Our systems are capable of delivering up to three kilograms up to ten kilometers away. We can deliver everything. We have a complete system that allows you to drop packages from the air in a safe way, hovering at twenty meters above ground and lowering the package on a wire in a completely safe way that enables you to lower a package to someone."

Where Flytrex is currently seeking to operate, Bash will not divulge but he says that he expects that within the next quarter the company will be operating in an urban environment and he will seek a new funding round within the next few quarters. At the beginning of this year, Flytrex was reported to have raised $3 million from several angel and VC investors.

How do you see the Israeli drone and aerospace industries develop?
"It's like cyber[security]. Israel became a superpower when it comes to cyber startups because of the military capabilities and then you had personnel leaving the military and starting their own companies. I think it's a bit the same with the drone industry. We have a very successful military industry and drones are becoming more civilian. You see a lot of people leaving the military or the aviation industry today and beginning their own startups, joining other startups, to accomplish something on the industrial, commercial, civilian level."

How does Israel's international reputation in drones help Flytrex?
"I have to say that with our clients I haven't seen them think well, the Israelis are great in military drones so Flytrex might be a good company. I think it mostly helps, the reputation, when you approach government officials. If you want to fly in certain countries you need to be in contact with the local civil aviation authorities, like the FAA in the United States. I think that when it comes to that, most of the countries, most aviation authorities already know Israel as a drone exporter and they most likely went through Israeli documentation and have approved Israeli drones before. They're more familiar with Israel, which really helps when you start the process with them."

With SpaceIL you've had a setback (when SpaceX's Falcon rocket blew up in 2016, delaying SpaceIL's launch date and possibly ending its X Prize chances). What will that mean?
"It is rocket science, things sometimes explode and go off track. It did postpone a bit our efforts but we're building a spacecraft. It's amazing. Even if it's going to take a few more months than we anticipated, it's still an amazing project. In two months from now you'll be able to come to Israel and see the spacecraft being built. We'll be launching in 2018. We don't have a specific date yet but we're getting very close to the launch date, which is making things a lot harder and a lot more exciting."

So, SpaceIL will continue, even if it can no longer win the prize?
"For us it's all about Israel reaching the moon, planting out flag there and exciting the next generation… We're actually an education non-profit. Our main vision is impacting every kid in Israel... We'll be recreating something that in the '60s was called the Apollo effect. After the Apollo program kids went in increasing numbers to be scientists and engineers. Here in Israel that's our main vision and we're working to generate thousands and maybe even tens of thousands of new engineers for Israel a decade or two from now." SpaceIL is a $70 million program that has received much of its funding from two billionaire donors, Israel's Morris Kahn and the US's Sheldon Adelson, says Bash.

Will there be commercial spin-offs from SpaceIL?
That's why the Israeli space agency donated $1.5 million. They believe SpaceIL could sprout a new industry for Israel, just like the aviation industry or the civilian cyber industry. We're a non-profit. Once we go to the moon it will help our engineers and trainees to open up new companies and start new business, they will not be competing with us.

Website: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/31/israel-r ... -moon.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 17 Jun 2017 22:11

IIA floats trial balloon for space missions
by Hemanth CS Bangalore Mirror Bureau June 16, 2017

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Ballooning group of faculty, students of IIA at a pre-launch session. Left: The UV telescope that will be carried in the balloon

High-altitude balloon, carrying UV telescope, to be launched on Sunday morning. A ballooning group comprising faculty and research students of the city-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) is all set to launch a high-altitude balloon in the wee hours of June 18.

The balloon that is being launched for scientific purposes will carry small payloads, which would be part of the future space missions. The balloon will carry a Ultra Violet (UV) telescope and spectrograph which will weigh around 250 gm.

“We intend to test the prototypes of the payloads when the balloon is launched. This is the first attempt to test the equipment and check their parameters,” said Prof Jayanth Murthy who heads the ballooning group.

The balloon programme is essentially to develop and test payloads for space missions. The team plans to launch the balloon from the IIA’s Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology campus in Hoskote.

“If the weather permits, we will launch the balloon that weighs 4 kg around 2.30 am and collect it around 5.30 am,” Murthy said. The team has chosen the wee hours as air traffic is relatively low during that time.The balloons will reach an altitude of around 30 km.

“Nobody has ever flown a 3D printer telescope and this is the first attempt. The telescope will take the UV spectrum of the moon,” Joice Mathew, a member of the team. The launch of balloons with scientific payloads is an inexpensive way to carry out space experiments.

In the future, the team also plans to test a prototype of a telescope called the Lunar Ultraviolet Cosmic Imager (LUCI), in a similar manner. LUCI will be onboard city-based startup Team Indus’s spacecraft to the moon.

IIA has developed the LUCI telescope. Team Indus is among the five teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, a global competition challenging privately-funded teams to land a spacecraft on the moon.

Website: http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/b ... 182418.cms?

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 18 Jun 2017 22:53

China planning to send mini-ecosystems to Moon
by PTI Indianexpress.com June 18, 2017

China is planning a manned mission to the Moon, and officials have announced that the preliminary preparations for the lunar landing have begun.

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An 18-centimetre-tall cylinder will carry potato seeds and silkworm eggs to be incubated. The silkworms will hatch and create carbon dioxide, while the potato plants will generate oxygen. (File Photo)

In a first, China is planning to send mini-ecosystems – containing potato seeds and silkworm eggs – to the Moon next year, in an attempt to study how the organisms develop on the lunar surface. The 3-kilogramme mini-ecosystem, developed by research teams led by Chongqing University in China, will be sent to the Moon by the Chang’e 4 scheduled to launch in 2018, authorities announced at the Global Space Exploration Conference.

An 18-centimetre-tall cylinder will carry potato seeds and silkworm eggs to be incubated. The silkworms will hatch and create carbon dioxide, while the potato plants will generate oxygen, Zhang Yuanxun, who designed the ecosystem, was quoted as saying by ‘Global Times’. Xie Gengxin, chief designer on the project, said their mission is to prepare for future moon landings and possible human inhabitants.

“We will livestream the development of plants and insects on lunar surface to the whole world,” Gengxin added. China is planning a manned mission to the Moon, and officials have announced that the preliminary preparations for the lunar landing have begun. Yang Liwei, deputy director general of China Manned Space Agency and the country’s first astronaut said that it will not take long for the project to get official approval and funding.

Website: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/ ... n-4709996/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 22 Jun 2017 21:01

Team Indus: Aiming for the moon
by Harichandan Arakali Forbes India Staff June 07, 2017

Rahul Narayan's TeamIndus is in the fray to launch India's first private moonshot. Besides the $20 million-prize money from Google, success could mean heralding a new age of space entrepreneurship in India

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TeamIndus stalwarts: (from left) Sridhar Ramasubban, Jedi Master—sales; Rahul Narayan, Fleet Commander; Sheelika Ravishankar, Jedi Master—marketing and outreach—and Dhruv Batra, Jedi Master—programme Image: Nishant Ratnakar For Forbes India

As far as his career was concerned, IIT-Delhi alumnus Rahul Narayan was never a conformist. He loathed the monotony of a conventional work life and wanted to pursue “something larger than the goals of a regular job”. So, in 2010, when he decided to wrap up his three-year stint at Agnicient Technologies—where he was COO—to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, he had no qualms in doing so.

The Google-sponsored Lunar XPRIZE carries a $20 million (Rs 129 crore) reward for the first privately-funded team that successfully soft-lands a spacecraft and manoeuvres for 500 metres a moon rover; the rover must also beam high definition images and videos back to the earth from the lunar surface—a feat not attempted even by the celebrated space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation. (Isro’s 2008 Moon Impact Probe, part of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, did not have a soft landing—it crashed, as planned, on the moon’s surface.)

The complexity of the mission is enormous, yet Narayan decided “it’s now or never”. After doing some initial work on the space mission from Delhi, he shifted to tech town Bengaluru in 2011 to start Axiom Research Labs, the company behind TeamIndus, which is currently one of the five finalists, and the only one from India, in the fray for the Lunar XPRIZE. The other finalists are Israel’s SpaceIL, the US’s Moon Express, Japan’s Hakuto and Synergy Moon, which is an international collaboration.

“The genesis [of the project] was to be a part of something bigger than what we do in our daily lives. This looked like something exciting, a target big enough to pursue,” says Narayan, 43, CEO of Axiom Research Labs and Fleet Commander at TeamIndus, which has Star Wars-based designations. TeamIndus was the last to register for the contest, in 2010, three years after the prize was announced.

Seven years, and about $25 million in funding later, it is just months away from launching the first Indian private spacecraft to the moon. On December 28, 2017, riding on Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the team’s spacecraft will commence its roughly 380,000 km, month-long journey that will hopefully end in an Apollo moment.

Success would mean more than a private company delivering on a ‘programme-level’ space project. (Shorn of jargon, this means that TeamIndus itself has defined the mission objective and will design, build and execute it against the usual practice of private companies building something to meet Isro’s specifications.) It could herald an age where startup-style entrepreneurs—like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the US—enter India’s spacefaring efforts, ending Isro’s monopoly.

“What they are doing is encouraging. If they successfully [soft] land their spacecraft on the moon, they will be beating Isro to it,” points out Gopal Raj, a journalist and space historian, who chronicled Isro’s story in his book Reach for the Stars. “It will give the idea of Indian private enterprise in the space sector a lot of credibility,” he tells Forbes India in a phone interview.

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Rahul Narayan, CEO of Axiom Research Labs, sees space as infrastructure, not simply as glory for the country Image: Nishant Ratnakar For Forbes India

The journey to the moon, however, is fraught with challenges. Placing a 600 kg-spacecraft into a lunar orbit and eventually staging a controlled, gentle landing on the moon’s surface is no mean feat. Adding to the stakes are the payloads TeamIndus’s spacecraft will be carrying. This includes a rover built by Hakuto, its Japanese competitor for the XPRIZE, besides a clutch of experimental apparatus. The contracts the company has inked to carry the payloads translate into revenues for TeamIndus, but if the mission goes awry, it will hurt the prospects of the clients as well.

To face these challenges, TeamIndus has put together a formidable effort, says Narayan. “We are more sure about ourselves, we know a lot of the things that need to fall in place. This is a programme we started from scratch less than seven years ago; and for less than $70 million (Rs451 crore) if we’re able to land a spacecraft on the moon, it would be a defining moment.” For points of comparison, Isro’s 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission cost about $80 million Rs 515 crore).

Narayan says the initial inspiration for TeamIndus was the Ansari XPRIZE in 2004, to launch a spacefaring vehicle. “I ardently followed it,” Narayan recalls. Not confident of himself then, he waited for a more opportune time and when the Lunar XPRIZE was announced, Narayan got his eureka moment.

The stories of competitors in the Google XPRIZE were inspiring, he says—among them was a father-son team, a lone ranger and a Carnegie Mellon University professor. “If so many different teams and groups were aiming for the prize, why couldn’t we do it out of India, too?” Narayan wondered. “It felt like it was the right time in India, the right place and maybe we were the right kind of people to chase it.”

For a long time, TeamIndus was Axiom Research’s sole focus. In the last year, however, the team has been identifying new avenues to apply its learnings from the moon mission, which could eventually help commercialise some of the capabilities Axiom has built. Landing a spacecraft on the moon itself could become a viable business proposition in the future.

Possibilities like these underpin the economics of investing in private space enterprises. It also explains why TeamIndus is spending $70 million on the $20 million Lunar XPRIZE—the latter is just the icing on the cake, not the ultimate goal.

Backing this vision is an eclectic cast of investors, which includes Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal.

TeamIndus is not the first private company to show interest in the space industry. In the last 30-35 years, private vendors—Godrej, L&T and Walchandnagar Industries to name a few—have contributed by manufacturing various components that go into a space mission, says Narayan. The difference then is that “we see ourselves at a programme level as opposed to the sub-contractor level,” says Narayan. “If you look at Nasa’s Mars rover programme, it’s completely outsourced to Lockheed Martin that takes the specifications and builds the rovers. Learnings that come out of it belong to Nasa. And Nasa, with its scientists, becomes a scientific organisation whereas the industry handles the engineering.”

This model will be at the heart of how TeamIndus eventually becomes commercially viable, says Narayan. By entering the ecosystem at a higher value-addition level, it wants to become a programme manager and a system integrator for large organisations such as Isro, and some day possibly for agencies like Nasa. “We see ourselves as an aerospace startup. It’s a long-gestation industry,” says Narayan. The capabilities that TeamIndus has acquired today, and the ones it is building, are much sought-after in the global space industry. It is “imminent” that the Bengaluru venture will be able to team up with other space agencies and private players in the future. TeamIndus is also building its own integration facility, where it will assemble its spacecraft, in Bengaluru.

But even as it gets future-ready, TeamIndus has to be mindful of the costs, given that it is a commercial entity. To cap expenses on the moon mission, “many redundancies have been done away with,” says N Srinivasa Hegde, mission director for TeamIndus, who served in the same capacity for Isro’s Chandrayaan-1 project. “Here you have to be frugal in design and content, and actions have to be justified economically.” For instance, the spacecraft’s ‘reaction wheel’, which helps to orient it in a particular direction, has been removed because it adds to the weight and power. Getting the spacecraft to point in a given direction now relies on complex software that will fire the spacecraft’s thrusters.

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Assembling the hardware on time is another real challenge, and “in the space industry, [a delay in making] just one component can delay the entire mission,” adds Hegde. Growth at TeamIndus has also only been possible inorganically, buying whatever could be bought and assembling it.

The technical challenges apart, TeamIndus also faces a manpower problem. Apart from the two dozen-odd retired Isro scientists and engineers among its 100-strong team, most of the young people at TeamIndus have not even seen a spacecraft. “They are doing so through our eyes,” says Hegde, which means he and the other Isro mentors had to distil their collective experience into their younger colleagues, with an average age of 26. Each senior member leads a team of four to 12 younger staffers in multiple sub-disciplines. Together they are able to design, analyse and prototype in-house.

Narayan sums it up: “The idea is that we should be able to take a simple problem statement—land on the moon, cover 500 metres and beam images and videos to the earth—and over seven years, figure out everything else that needs to go into it.”

The company was relatively inefficient this time, he admits, as it was the first attempt. But the experience TeamIndus has gained and the team it has weaved together could become a strong business proposition.

And there are many business opportunities that are emerging. “Space has moved to new services that are really novel,” says Narayan Prasad, CEO of Bengaluru-based Dhruva Space, a private venture building satellites. There are many new services—Internet of Things, automatic identification of ships, aircraft tracking and GPS radio occultation for weather prediction—being built on satellite systems that have evolved over the last 10 years, he says.

Such services, however, don’t feature in India’s road map yet, as Isro has its own government-approved mandate. The space agency has its hands full with work, including building some 70 satellites over the next five years.

The time is ripe for the private industry to step in, pick up the slack and tap the opportunity. What is needed is a policy framework on how companies such as TeamIndus and Dhruva can be integrated into the country’s space policy, says Prasad.

Narayan echos this view: “I see space as infrastructure, not simply as glory for the country.” He points out that space-based infrastructure is already a significant part of our lives. “We just don’t notice it. GPS, television broadcasting, big chunks of mobile networks and weather forecast are all dependent on satellites.” Beaming internet down to earth is seen as increasingly viable, and TeamIndus sees itself as a potential engineering vendor to help put up the complex network of ground stations, satellites and so on.

Narayan sees himself and TeamIndus as “partners” to agencies such as Isro, Nasa as well as the larger established multi-billion-dollar private aerospace companies in the US, in the global $300 billion-space industry. The aim is to usher in the “next wave of what needs to happen in space, with space”.

Clearly, the company’s raison d’etre stretches beyond the moon mission it is now pursuing.

Website: http://www.forbesindia.com/article/star ... on/47169/1

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 24 Jun 2017 13:35

New Spacesuit System Could Repel Destructive Moon Dust
by Elizabeth Howell Seeker.com June 21, 2017

Lunar dust is sharp, jagged, and sticky, presenting a host of challenges to NASA astronauts on the surface of the moon.
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Space suit and mission insignia patch worn by Dave Scott during the Apollo 15 lunar landing in July 1971. The dust on the suit is lunar dust Tim Evanson

Anyone who has seen a dusty moonwalkers' suit in a museum can appreciate just how challenging an environment it was to walk on the moon. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, 12 people made the journey and worked on the lunar surface for as long as 27 hours, across three spacewalks. It's now nearly 50 years since the first moonwalk, and engineers are still trying to figure out how to solve the problems associated with lunar dust.

One idea — led by Kavya Manyapu, a Ph.D. student at the University of North Dakota who also works on the CST-100 commercial spacecraft with Boeing for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program — is a dust mitigation technology integrated into the spacesuit itself. Her research, “Proof of concept demonstration of novel technologies for lunar spacesuit dust mitigation,” was recently published in Acta Astronautica.

“Lunar dust poses many challenges because there is no atmosphere on the moon to create erosion, so dust is very sharp and jagged, which leads to abrasion of suit materials,” Manyapu told Seeker in an email. “Additionally, the UV rays and solar winds make this sharp dust sticky, so it electrostatically adheres to the suits (and other space equipment). It also increases thermal load on the suits due to their high solar absorptivity.”

Her concept includes an active component and a passive component. The passive part is a resistive coating adapted from a NASA invention for thermal radiation surfaces. The active part is an electrodynamic dust shield concept originally developed at NASA to work on more rigid surfaces, such as solar cells. To adapt it for spacesuits, the shield has been changed to use carbon nanotube flexible electrodes to eject and remove the dust from the suit.

So far, her team has done several demonstrations on pieces of a spacesuit's outer layer. In laboratory conditions, the system can repel more than 85 percent of simulated lunar dust. The next step will be to prove this concept works on larger portions of a spacesuit, she said.
“The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust,” Larry Taylor, director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee, remarked in 2008. The abrasive yet gummy lunar dust stiffened the joints of the suit and wore away layers of tough material on its boots.

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Lunar dust covers the shins of astronaut Ed Mitchell, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 14, during one of his moonwalks in 1971 NASA

While we know for sure that there is a dust problem on the moon, it isn't as clear if astronauts on Mars would have similar problems with their spacesuits. NASA is in fact more focused on sending humans to Mars in the 2030s than returning to the moon, although the agency recently released tentative plans for a Deep Space Gateway space station near the moon that could be used for several destinations. Until recently, NASA also had designs to send astronauts to an asteroid as part of its asteroid redirect mission, but that was canceled as a part of the 2018 US presidential budget request.

While NASA is still hoping to send humans to Mars, its plan has been criticized for not having enough money allocated — at least yet — to follow through on that promise in time. Still, the agency has several robotic missions at the Red Planet that are doing scientific investigations and examining surface conditions for possible future missions to the surface.

“As we continue to explore our solar system, we'll need a suit that can survive the dusty planetary environments for much longer durations,” Manyapu noted. “This is true whether we’re going to the moon, Mars or asteroids, though the atmosphere on Mars may have enabled some erosion to slightly soften Mars dust.” “We’re still investigating what kind of dust exists on Mars,” she added. “Logistically, it’s expensive to launch several suits and equipment to replace items damaged by dust, so we can improve operations by coming up with a solution to the problem of dust.”

Website: https://www.seeker.com/space/exploratio ... -moon-dust

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 15 Jul 2017 21:48

Moon Express releases details of its lunar lander missions
by Jeff Foust Spacenews.com July 12, 2017

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An illustration of Moon Express' MX-1E spacecraft on the surface of the moon. Credit: Moon Express

WASHINGTON — Moon Express, a company developing commercial lunar landers, said July 12 its first mission is still on schedule to launch by the end of this year in a bid to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

The Florida-based company used an event on Capitol Hill to unveil the design of that lander, known as MX-1E, as well as plans for future missions that include larger landers and sample return spacecraft. That spacecraft, capable of placing up to 30 kilograms of payload onto the lunar surface, is the building block of a “flexible, scalable and innovative exploration architecture that can help us open the moon as a frontier for humanity,” said Moon Express Chief Executive Bob Richards.

Richards, standing next to a full-scale mockup of the MX-1E, said work on that initial spacecraft is going well. “We have flight hardware already,” he said, citing the development of the lander’s engine, called PECO, that uses rocket-grade kerosene and high-test hydrogen peroxide propellants. Two of those engines have been built and will soon be undergoing tests.

Other components of the spacecraft are either undergoing testing — its laser altimeter, Richards said, is being tested at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center — or are being manufactured. That includes the main spacecraft bus, a carbon composite “unibody” design that includes both the spacecraft structure and propellant tanks. The company did not release photos or videos of that hardware.

Current plans call for integrating the spacecraft components by September at the company’s facility at the former Launch Complex 17/18 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, then shipping the spacecraft to the New Zealand launch site of Rocket Lab, which will launch the spacecraft on its Electron rocket.

Richards admitted that the schedule was tight, both for spacecraft assembly and launch, in order to meet the deadline in the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize competition of launching by the end of the year. “We have a lot to do in a very short timeframe, and Rocket Lab has a lot to do in a very short timeframe,” he said.

That schedule is complicated by the fact that the Electron vehicle is still in development, having made its first, partially-successful launch May 25. The first stage of the rocket performed as planned, but the second stage failed to place a test payload into orbit. Rocket Lab has not released details about the flight or announced when it will carry out its second of three planned test launches of the rocket.

There are several launches ahead of Moon Express on Rocket Lab’s manifest, Richards said, including a NASA mission under a Venture Class Launch Services contract awarded in 2015. “I would imagine there’s opportunity for shuffling” the order of those launches, he said. “The main thing is to get the vehicle operational now, then we can talk about when we can be on top of it.”

Richards said it would be disappointing if Moon Express did not launch before the prize deadline, but that the company wasn’t relying on the prize purse. “I really hope that we can be in a position to win it,” he said. “But from our business perspective, it’s not a dependency, and it never was. So we will be launching this mission as soon as we can.”

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Moon Express CEO Bob Richards speaks at a July 12 event in Washington alongside a full-scale model of the company’s MX-1E lander. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust

Future mission architecture
The initial MX-1E mission is the first in a series of missions in the planning stages by Moon Express, Richards said. A second mission, planned for launch in 2019, will attempt to land in the south polar regions of the moon, an area of considerable interest for both science and future human exploration given the presence of deposits of water ice in permanently-shadowed craters there.

The MX-1E is intended to be a building block for future larger landers. One design, the MX-2, would feature two MX-1E buses stacked on top of each other, with the capability for missions not just to the moon but also elsewhere in the inner solar system.

A larger lander, the MX-5, would use five MX-1E buses as engine pods to support a large lander platform capable of carrying 150 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface. An even larger spacecraft, the MX-9, would have nine engine pods and could carry out lunar sample return missions, using an MX-1E as the ascent vehicle.

Richards said that Moon Express could fly an MX-9 as soon as 2020 as a sample return mission, returning “tens of kilograms” of lunar samples. “We look forward opening up the opportunity for everyone to have lunar rocks,” he said, including for both scientific and commercial applications. “Only governments own moon rocks, and we want to change that.”

Richards said he hopes to have both commercial and government customers for the company’s missions, including tapping into what he sees as a renewed interest in lunar exploration by the Trump administration. “We want to time this with our customers in mind,” he said of the schedule of future missions, “particularly with NASA and what we see as the emerging American enthusiasm for returning to the surface of the moon. We believe we can play a big role in that.”

What that mix of customers will be, and when they will be ready to fly, is still uncertain, he acknowledged. “We’re predicting a market that doesn’t really yet exist,” he said. “We’re kind of skating towards where we believe the puck is going to be.”

Website: http://spacenews.com/moon-express-relea ... -missions/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 22 Jul 2017 14:49

Moon Express announces trio of expeditions to the Moon
by Curt Godwin Spaceflightinsider.com July 14, 2017

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Artist’s rendering of the MX-1 shortly after landing on the Moon. Image Credit: Moon Express

Though not necessarily as widely known as their NewSpace counterparts, Moon Express showed that its plans to upend exploration beyond Earth are no less impressive than those of its peers. On July 12, 2017, the Florida-based company announced ideas for a trio of missions to the Moon, the first of which is tentatively scheduled for late in 2017 – potentially making them the first commercial company to reach Earth’s natural satellite.

Who is Moon Express?
As one of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), Moon Express set itself up from the beginning to challenge for a prize totaling $30 million, by launching a robotic explorer to the Moon. To achieve this, the company must land on the surface, travel at least 500 meters (1,640 feet), and transmit high-definition video and photos back to Earth.

Although the company is comparatively young, having been founded in August 2010, Moon Express has wasted little time in advancing its goal of opening up lunar and deep space exploration to commercial interests.

Indeed, within a year of its founding, the fledgling company successfully completed a test flight of the Lunar Test Vehicle (LTV), a prototype lunar lander that was developed in partnership with NASA. The company continued to rack up an impressive list of accomplishments in the following years, including becoming the first commercial company to develop and successfully conduct flight tests of its own lunar lander.

These successes kept Moon Express in the hunt for the GLXP, being one of five teams still vying for the award, as well as earning itself a partnership with NASA on the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) program.

The company secured a launch contract with Rocket Lab in December 2015, and, in July 2016, it became the first company to win government approval to send a payload beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO).

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Moon Express co-founder Bob Richards poses next to the MX-1E spacecraft in this photo he shared on Twitter. Photo Credit: Bob Richards / Moon Express

Rio of Exploration Missions
The vehicle Moon Express has tapped to lead their first lunar mission is MX-1 single-stage spacecraft and lander. Capable of delivering up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds) to the lunar surface from LEO, the MX-1 somewhat resembles R2-D2 from Star Wars.

The lander uses Moon Express’ own PECO propulsion system, which makes use of high-test hydrogen peroxide as its propellant, providing approximately 5.8 km/s of delta-V (amount of velocity change the spacecraft has). This level of delta-v is sufficient for the vehicle to travel from LEO, land on the lunar surface, lift-off, and travel the requisite distance, and land again to satisfy the guidelines of the GLXP.

While the company aims to launch by the end of 2017 so that it has a shot of claiming the GLXP, Moon Express has greater ambitions than simply winning the purse.

“That’s where my heart is – Solar System exploration on a grand scale that democratizes and completely accelerates our evolution into the Solar System through knowledge and discovery, not just a few expensive voyages sponsored by kings and governments, like in history,” Moon Express CEO and co-founder Bob Richards was quoted as saying in an article on Space.com.

After the initial mission, termed “Lunar Scout” by the company, Moon Express plans to undertake two successive missions, each more ambitious than the last.

Modular System
The company’s second mission, which Moon Express has termed “Lunar Outpost”, will land near the lunar South Pole, and will utilize the company’s larger MX-2 spacecraft. Essentially two MX-1 vehicles in a tandem arrangement, the larger MX-2 allows for a greater range of missions to a larger number of destinations.

From its position high on a lunar peak bathed in perpetual sunlight, the MX-2 will seek out water ice trapped in the regolith of craters shaded in terminal darkness. Water can be used to manufacture rocket propellant when broken down into its hydrogen and oxygen components, or it can be used to generate breathable oxygen or drinking water, which will be a need for human habitation beyond Earth’s surface.

Lastly, the company plans to launch its “Harvest Moon” mission by 2020. Designed around the MX-9 spacecraft, “Harvest Moon” will land on the lunar surface, collect samples, and launch them back to Earth for recovery. Moon Express considers this to be the beginning of their business phase of lunar prospecting.

As its name suggests, the MX-9 consists of nine MX-1 cores and can deliver up to 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of payload to the lunar surface from geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

Also in the family is the five-core MX-5. Like its MX-9 cousin, it can be configured for orbiter, lander, and deep space operations, and is capable of sample return missions. With such a diverse collection of vehicles, with a broad range of capabilities, it’s apparent that the company has ultimately set its sights beyond Earth’s nearest neighbor.

“We’re not The Moon Express,” Richards told Space.com. “We’re Moon Express, so any moon will do.”

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Artist’s rendering of the MX-9 preparing to gather a lunar sample. Image Credit: Moon Express

Website: http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organ ... ions-moon/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby Varoon Shekhar » 22 Jul 2017 18:16

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city ... 706355.cms

Upbeat- hope they have acquired the funding they sought!

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 24 Jul 2017 23:55

The Moon is a harsh milestone
by Jeff Foust The Space Review July 24, 2017

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An illustration of Moon Express’ first lander, the MX-1E, which could launch late this year if everything goes well. (credit: Moon Express)

In another speech, his comment might have gotten more attention. However, a 75-minute talk by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk July 19—in the form of an onstage interview with NASA ISS manager Kirk Shireman, followed by a lengthy question-and-answer session with the audience—can be rich in material.

Musk, speaking at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, confirmed rumors that SpaceX will not include “propulsive landing” in the crewed version of the Dragon spacecraft, citing a lengthy safety qualification process. That appeared to put into question the company’s plans for Red Dragon, its initial Mars lander mission; Musk said updates to that overall Mars mission architecture would likely come at the International Astronautical Congress in September in Australia. He also lowered expectations for the first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, slated for later this year, and answered questions on his tunneling side venture, The Boring Company, and about his concerns regarding artificial intelligence.

With all those issues, what got lost in the shuffle was Musk’s apparent interest in—or at least support of—a lunar base. “If you want to get the public really fired up, I think we’ve got to have a base on the Moon,” he said at the end of a long answer about educating the public about the ISS. That triggered applause from the audience that packed a hotel ballroom for the event. “And then going beyond that,” he added, “getting people to Mars.”

“Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body: a Moon base, and then getting people to Mars and beyond,” he said. “That’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo.”

Did this comment represent a change in Musk’s vision for human spaceflight, one where the Moon is a waystation on the way to Mars? SpaceX did announce plans in February for a human circumlunar mission, launched on a Falcon Heavy as soon as late 2018. However, SpaceX has not provided any updates on the proposed mission since that announcement, and Musk did not directly address it at last week’s conference beyond confirming that a Falcon Heavy could “toss a Dragon in a loop around the Moon.”

Musk wasn’t the first person that day at the conference, ostensibly about use of the ISS, to bring up lunar bases. Earlier that morning, Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow gave a keynote where he emphasized the importance of going back to the Moon before the Chinese establish a presence there. He even used a series of cartoons to warn that US inaction would lead to China profiting from lunar resources like helium-3, fuel for as-yet-nonexistent fusion reactors.

“There is a business case for the Moon. You have folks that are Mars folks. We all saw the movie The Martian and loved it and thought we want to go,” Bigelow said. “But there are certain practicalities that really, I think, need to cause us to focus on the Moon first.”

Bigelow suggested the Moon could provide a better destination for a Trump Administration space exploration policy than Mars. “If we’re going to execute something grand here in a reasonable time, it needs to be done during the course of an administration,” he said. “If the current administration is going to be an eight-year timeframe, that’s enough time to do something really interesting and really grand vis-à-vis the Moon, not Mars.”

Those comments by Bigelow and Musk feed into a growing perception that NASA’s human space exploration plans may be redirected towards the Moon, at least as some kind if interim step before eventually continuing on to Mars. With the Asteroid Redirect Mission now cancelled, NASA is studying a concept for a cislunar habitat, called the Deep Space Gateway, intended to test technologies needed for future Mars missions but which could also support future human missions to the lunar surface.

Those concepts are still in just their earliest stages. NASA last week issued a request for information about what would be the gateway’s first element, a power and propulsion module that could fly as a secondary payload on the first crewed SLS/Orion mission, no earlier than 2022. How the gateway would fit into a lunar exploration architecture, including contributions by partner nations, remains to be seen.

A human return to the Moon, advocates argue, could be done faster and less expensively than Mars. But a human return to the Moon, while easier than going to Mars, will not itself be easy. The struggles facing governments and companies simply trying to send robotic missions to the Moon illustrate this.

The country with the most aggressive lunar exploration plans is China. The country became the third country, after the former Soviet Union and the US, to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface with the Chang’e-3 mission in late 2013. China’s space agency was preparing to launch Chang’e-5, the first lunar sample return mission in more than four decades, late this year, followed a year later by Chang’e-4, the first spacecraft to attempt a landing on the lunar farside. In the long term, China has ambitions for human lunar missions, although the timetable for those is uncertain.

Those plans, though, may be on hold. Chang’e-5 was to launch on the third flight of the Long March 5, China’s new heavy-lift rocket. But early this month, the second launch of the Long March 5, carrying an experimental communications satellite, ended in failure because of a problem with the rocket’s first stage. The Chinese government has remained characteristically quiet about the ongoing investigation and its implications for the Chang’e-5 mission.

Russia also has plans for robotic lunar missions, including a lander and a sample return spacecraft. The schedule for those, however, is unclear. Last week, the CEO of the Lavochkin Research and Production Association, which is responsible for those lunar missions, said an initial orbiter would fly no earlier than 2021, followed by a lander in 2022. The latest delay: there was insufficient infrastructure at the Baikonur Cosmodrome for processing multiple interplanetary spacecraft, and the joint European-Russian ExoMars 2020 lander and rover took precedence.

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Robert Bigelow, speaking at the ISS Research and Development Conference July 19, said the Moon was a more feasible destination for an administration seeking to get something done in the next eight years. (credit: J. Foust)

A sluggish race to the Moon
A week before Bigelow and Musk talked about the Moon at the ISS conference, Bob Richards offered his own update on lunar exploration efforts. The CEO of Moon Express, Richards came to Washington to unveil a full-sized model of the company’s first lunar lander, the MX-1E, and discuss a lunar mission architecture that goes well beyond that.

“Our MX-1 is a workhorse not just for economically getting to the Moon, but to also economically bring back the resources from the Moon,” he said in a presentation in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, standing next to that MX-1E model.

The MX-1E, a cylindrical spacecraft about one and a half meters tall with four landing legs, will first fly as the company’s entry in the Google Lunar X PRIZE late this year, if all goes well. But the spacecraft, he said, is intended to be a building block for a “flexible, scalable and innovative exploration architecture that can help us open the Moon as a frontier for humanity.”

Richards, in the presentation, showed off some future lander concepts. The MX-2 would be two MX-1E buses stacked on top of each other to carry additional cargo to the Moon or for other missions in the inner solar system. The MX-5 lander would be a larger platform, using five MX-1E buses as individual engine pods to land up to 150 kilograms on the surface. The MX-9, as the name suggests, would be an even larger lander with nine MX-1E engine pods. It could also carry a MX-1E to serve as an ascent stage to return lunar samples to Earth.

First, though, the MX-1E must fly. Richard said the company is still planning to launch the first MX-1E later this year. “We have flight hardware already,” Richards said, citing completion of engines that will be used by the lander, as well as instruments and other components of the vehicle. Richards, in his presentation, didn’t show any of that hardware, instead playing animations of the MX-1E and future spacecraft traveling to the Moon.

Under the current plan, the first MX-1E will be assembled at the company’s Cape Canaveral facility—the former Launch Complex 17 and 18 once used for launches of the Delta II—by September, then shipped to New Zealand. There, Rocket Lab will launch the spacecraft on an Electron small launch vehicle.

That’s a lot that needs to be done in a little more than five months. “We have a lot to do in a very short timeframe, and Rocket Lab has a lot to do in a very short timeframe,” Richards acknowledged.

Moreover, to date Rocket Lab has launched its Electron just once, on a test flight two months ago that failed to reach orbit because of an unspecified problem with its upper stage. In a June update on the company’s website, CEO Peter Beck said the company had a “strong understanding” of what went wrong. “As soon as we’re ready, we’ll look to make more details publicly available,” he wrote in the last update published by the company.

Time is of the essence because the Google Lunar X PRIZE requires the remaining teams—it selected five finalists in January—to launch their spacecraft by the end of the year. Rocket Lab has at least two more test launches planned before beginning commercial launches, with several customers ahead of Moon Express on the manifest.

“I would imagine there’s opportunity for shuffling” the manifest, Richards said, to move Moon Express up to an earlier flight. “The main thing is to get the vehicle operational now, then we can talk about when we can be on top of it.”

Moon Express is not alone, though, with problems meeting that end-of-year deadline. SpaceIL, an Israeli team, was the first to have a launch contract verified by the X PRIZE Foundation in 2015, flying on a “dedicated rideshare” Falcon 9 launch with a number of other payloads. However, SpaceX delays, plus other issues, have pushed back that launch until early 2018.

Team Indus announced late last year a contract with the Indian space agency ISRO for a launch of its lander, which will also carry a rover from Team Hakuto of Japan, on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. That launch is scheduled for late December, though, giving the team virtually no margin in the event of delays. Moreover, some recent media reports from India indicate that the launch contract has yet to be finalized, and that team is still seeking to raise tens of millions of dollars for its mission, neither of which inspire confidence in meeting that schedule.

Then there is Synergy Moon, a multinational team that, late last year, informally allied itself with several other teams that did not have a launch contract and thus would not be eligible to continue in the competition. Synergy Moon has a launch contract with Mojave, California-based Interorbital Systems for a launch on its Neptune 8 rocket later this year.

The problem, though, is that the Neptune 8 has yet to fly, and there is little sign that the vehicle or its precursors will be ready this year. Speaking at the annual Space Payload Rideshare Symposium in June at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, company co-founder Randa Milliron said the Neptune 8 would be preceded by earlier versions of the Neptune, starting with the Neptune 1. The first Neptune 1 launch, she said, was planned for the fourth quarter of this year, but the company has provided little evidence that launch remains on schedule or that, even if it does take place, the Neptune 8 can fly this year.

“We’re looking to go fully operational to clear that launch manifest that we do have in 2018–2019,” she said.

That raises the possibility that none of the teams will be able to launch by the end of year, even if their lunar landers are ready to fly by then. In the past, the X PRIZE Foundation has indicated that there would be no further extensions of the prize beyond the end of this year. First announced in September 2007, the $20 million ground prize was originally set to decrease to $15 million if not won by the end of 2012, and expire at the end of 2014. Those deadlines have slipped several times since.

Richards, while emphasizing that the Google Lunar X PRIZE is not a critical part of the company’s overall business plan, also hinted that it might be in the best interests of prize sponsor Google to agree to one more extension.

“If for any reason, that prize was no longer available, I think it would be sad,” he said. “Google has been great, so it would be so sad if, six months later, there’s a landing and Google didn’t get the credit.” It would also presumably be sad if the winning team didn’t get the $20 million grand prize.

Website: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3292/1

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 13 Aug 2017 13:26

Why we soldier on at TeamIndus
by TeamIndusLead (Rahul Narayan) Medium July 30, 2017

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Hers's to the crazy ones
It’s been most than six years since we started on this audacious, crazy journey (The popular definition of crazy that we follow is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rwsuXHA7RA) to the Moon. On the way, we have had to fight our very instincts in moments of self doubt, not to mention those who said maybe this was too big a dream to be fulfilled by a group of nobodies sitting in a corner of India.

We have soldiered on, because we are united by our Moonshot. There comes a time in one’s life when all you want to do is follow your dream, without thinking of the consequences of what lies beyond. For TeamIndus the mission to the Moon is about being the change we want to see and in the process potentially driving cultural, scientific and economic change.

The audacity of the idea behind instituting Google Lunar XPrize, as well as the journey undertaken by teams like Astrobotic have served as a huge inspiration for us at TeamIndus. Back in 2010, I had stumbled upon a speech from Peter Diamandis, part of which can be seen here (Peter’s speech is part of our Moonstruck video). These words still gives me goosebumps — it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, you land the Rover on the Moon and you win!

I remember being inspired by Dr Red Whittaker of Astrobotic and the work of Dumitru Popescu of ARCASpace. It was truly inspiring to see what these small teams from around the world were aiming for. So much so that the only question left to ask back then was who wants to lead the NewSpace challenge from India. It eventually fell to us, and we took the plunge. We had no experience in space, neither did we boast of connections within the scientific community. All we started with was with the dream of building a spacecraft that can soft-land on the Moon — entirely indigenously. That was 6 years ago.

How far have we come?
The path chronologically
2007 / Genesis: Sep-2007 Google Lunar XPrize was announced, with nearly 10 starting registered teams
2008 / Chandrayaan-I: India’s first inter-planetary mission to the Moon by ISRO
2010 / Made it by the whisker: TeamIndus was the last team to register for the competition — total 29 registered teams
2011 / Standing on the shoulder of giants: TeamIndus relied on the knowledge, expertise of retired ISRO scientists to set in motion our engineering plans
2012 / Setting up our team: First batch of full time engineers come on board, we finally start moving onto designs, plans and strategies
2013 / The all important move: TeamIndus made Bangalore its home and it all starts coming together
2014 / Big turning point: No one believed, TeamIndus included, that we would be shortlisted for the Milestone prize, especially in the Landing category
2015 / Winning $1M, raising our first formal equity round
2016 / Touching 100 team strength, moving to our own facility, signing the launch contract with Antrix
2017 / Shortlist: TeamIndus announced as one of only 5 remaining teams in the competition.

The present
I believe the chances of TeamIndus being the first private company to land on the Moon have never been better. Of course, as with most space missions hurtling towards a difficult deadline, there is much work ahead of us. There are tests to be completed, reviews to be undertaken. We are burning the proverbial midnight oil to do it all and do it within the date marked in bold in front of us.

To organise this flow, we having been following a stage-gate review process to design our mission and systems and for risk and reliability management. Our secret sauce is marrying the experience of experts and the energy of youth, and it is hugely inspiring when the architects of Indian Space program recognise our efforts. Dr. K Kasturirangan has been and continues to be our pillar of strength.

Even without asking ISRO, from the day we registered we assumed when we launch, it will be on board a PSLV-XL. A huge validation came along last year when we signed our launch contract with Antrix. This was a crucial milestone, not just because it helped us remain in the competition, but also because it demonstrated great things happen when the best of India’s public and ambitious private enterprises work together. It also helps us immensely that the PSLV is perhaps the most reliable and proven of any of the launch vehicles that are being used by the teams still left in GLXP.

When it comes to the status of our subsystems for the mission, the thermo-structural, propulsion, communication, flight computer configurations have been frozen for a while now and are in various stages of execution. Evolution on the flight software and control systems is on-going and we should be where we need to be very soon. Our payload configuration was frozen earlier this year, we are awaiting a formal multi-stakeholder review before we publish the flight payload manifest.

I am assigning @AiDeeAi for Spacecraft, @93Vaish for Rover, @GuptaHarshita90 for Mission, @TeamIndusOrg for outreach updates first Friday of each month, going forward to keep everyone abreast of what is happening.

We are gunning for a major review in the week of 2nd October, a review that will green light (or otherwise) and set up the last phase of our journey to the launchpad. To my mind this ultimate review is the outcome of efforts, passion and prayers of every supporter, partner, backer and team member that has believed in our journey. Therefore we are going to make this into a celebration week on lines of a Dreamforce developer’s conference. We are going to throw this open to media and selected (selection criteria yet to be declared) public to join in, once the reviews are completed and completed successfully, we will welcome you on board to a much closer look.

Then there is the need for money. There are multiple components that need to be paid for. We break a bunch of this just to learn more, and although only one model flies, multiple models have to be built. Tests are super expensive: for example the cost of the Spacecraft we tested for the milestone prize (December 2014) was less than the cost of the test itself :) Then there’s the cost of commercial launch contract we have with Antrix.

Is it still possible to launch with the Google Lunar XPrize timeframe?
We have backed ourselves to meet some pretty crazy deadlines before, and are committing to keep trying until we have exhausted all possible options of winning the Grand Prize. Our first viable launch window is 28–30 Dec 2017, then a 3-day window is available every 2 weeks. Until then, we would need to clear multiple tests, certifications and rehearsals before we get onto the launch pad.

We believe an entire generation is a stakeholder in our journey and potentially the biggest beneficiary of the success of our Mission. That’s why we want to keep everyone in informed about the mission and its progress. Our Outreach efforts have also been our primary recruitment tool, and obviously the more we reach out to people, the better our chances of making this Mission happen will be.

The future
No space mission is possible without a whole bunch of really smart engineers. As the Moon mission enters its final phase, we are readying to take up new challenges and help create a sustainable aerospace business that can compete with the best in the world.

We started the engineering of this mission from first principles (that’s correct Newton’s, Kepler’s laws all came in handy) — thanks to the deep learnings from this grounds up program development, we are now reasonably well equipped to take on other engineering challenges. Will it be inter-planetary missions, constellation design, deeper data analytics — at this point all those are creative thinking we continue to explore with a bunch of our partners both Indian and International.

We have a bunch of smart engineers, and most of our future programs will evolve out of tinkering by our engineers in their extra time, as they work on the Moon mission. Some of these projects and directions they embark on would be taken further, some especially crazy ones may even be kept in cold storage for a while until technology catches up with their vision.

When we started this journey we knew that we would be an ecosystem enabler for NewSpace and more in India. At this point I know of at least four startups that has come out of TeamIndus, I personally am happy to encourage the bright, disruptive ones to do more and at some point if their plans do not fit inside our structure to go setup on their own.

There is only one thing I have committed to for life beyond the Moon mission. It will be a challenge to go back on my promise that everyone who made this happen will have earned a 30-day paid vacation. :)

Until next time
We have been asked multiple times whether we bit more than we could chew. You bet we have, because audacious goals requires insane belief and in order to accomplish the impossible, you have to be unreasonable in your expectations. That’s what guided us when we started this journey all those years ago and that is what will continue to light our path.

We have travelled far to be where we are today. Despite questions on the contrary coming our way, we have no intention of shirking away from the challenge and we intend to be the first private entity on the Moon. “To the Moon, on time, on budget — pick two” is a common saying amongst Space scientists — for TeamIndus the first parameter is set in stone. Unambiguously so :)

As they say, those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world for the better are the ones who do.

Rahul can be to reach out on Twitter @TeamIndusLead

Website: https://medium.com/teamindus/why-we-sol ... d34660be4e

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 13 Aug 2017 13:34

TeamIndus #MissionLog: August
by TeamIndus Medium August 4, 2017

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Website: https://medium.com/teamindus/teamindus- ... ececc8e4e5

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 14 Aug 2017 21:59

Moon express announces lunar south pole mission technology development contract with international lunar observatory association
by MoonExpress July 21, 2017

International lunar observatory to be established at moon’s south pole in 2019
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Lunar South Pole – Malapert Mountain: Lunar south pole temperature as imaged by NASA LRO Diviner instrument. (Image: NASA)

International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express recently announced a collaboration for the delivery of the first International Lunar Observatory to the South Pole of the Moon in 2019 (ILO-1). Moon Express has been contracted by ILOA to develop advanced landing technologies supporting the mission.

The ILO-1 astrophysical observatory and research station will be the world’s first instrument to image the Milky Way Galaxy and to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface.

The ILO-1 will be landed on a ‘peak of eternal light’ at the lunar South Pole by a Moon Express robotic explorer system. The primary landing site under analysis is Malapert Mountain, a 5km tall peak in the Aitken Basin region that is bathed in sunshine most of the time and has 24/7 direct line of sight to Earth as well as to Shackleton Crater for communications. Moon Express will utilize the mission to explore the Moon’s South Pole for mineral resources and water.

“The primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation and communications from our Moon,” said ILOA founder and director, Steve Durst. “We are extremely excited to work with Moon Express to establish a presence on the Moon in 2019, the 50th anniversary year of Apollo 11.”

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Aloha to the Moon – International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Moon Express are collaborating for the delivery of the first International Lunar Observatory to the South Pole of the Moon in 2019 (ILO-1). (L-R: Daven Maharaj, Bob Richards, Steve Durst, MX-1E)

The advanced landing technologies under development for the mission include precision landing and hazard avoidance that will allow a Moon Express robotic landing system to deliver the ILO-1 to the challenging terrain of the Moon’s south pole.

For more information on the International Lunar Observatory, email: info@iloa.org

http://www.moonexpress.com/news/moon-ex ... sociation/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 17 Aug 2017 09:01

Google lunar XPrize offers $4.75 million to teams who complete in-space milestones on way to the moon
by Google lunar XPrize August 16, 2017

Additionally, a mission completion deadline has been set for March 31, 2018

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Los Angeles- XPRIZE and Google announce that $4.75M in additional Milestone Prize money will be available to Google Lunar XPRIZE finalist teams for achieving technological milestones along the way to the Moon. Teams can compete for one or both of the following prizes:

Lunar Arrival Milestone Prize — The spacecraft must complete one orbit around the Moon or enter a direct descent approach to the lunar surface to win $1.75M.

Soft Landing Milestone Prize — The spacecraft must transmit data proving it soft-landed on the lunar surface to win $3M.

The Milestone Prize purses will be evenly distributed between all teams who have achieved each milestone by March 31, 2018.

“XPRIZE and Google are thrilled to offer these additional in-space Milestone Prizes as a further incentive for finalist teams and to recognize the full gravity of these bold technological feats taking place in the race to the Moon,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director, Google Lunar XPRIZE.

Earlier this year, XPRIZE announced the five finalist teams with verified launch contracts: SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (USA), Synergy Moon (International), TeamIndus (India) and HAKUTO (Japan). Additionally, XPRIZE established a mission completion deadline of March 31, 2018, regardless of the initiation date, in order for teams to win the Grand or Second-Place Prizes.

In January 2015, five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams were awarded Milestone Prizes for a combined $5.25M in recognition of advancements in the areas of mobility, imaging and landing technology. If a team ultimately wins the Grand Prize or Second-Place Prize, then the Grand Prize or the Second-Place Prize will be reduced by the amount the team has won in Milestone Prizes.

About the Google Lunar XPRIZE
The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth. Visit http://lunar.xprize.org/ or @GLXP for more information.

About XPRIZE
XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowd-sourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE. For more information, visit http://www.xprize.org/.

Website: http://lunar.xprize.org/press-release/g ... stones-way


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