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DESTINATION MOON

Human exploration of the lunar surface began and ended with Apollo missions. It has been 45 years since any human has been the Moon. The latest robotic mission to the Moon was in 2013, the Chang’e-3 lander with the Yutu rover by China - 37 years after the previous robotic lander, Luna 24 (a successful Soviet sample return mission). Global attention has been turned towards the Moon in the recent past, mainly to serve as a testing ground to incrementally build up capabilities to enable human exploration of Mars.

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MISSION PROFILE

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TeamIndus will launch its spacecraft in 2018. Starting from a highly elliptical Earth orbit, the spacecraft will set its course to the Moon using a series of complex orbital manoeuvres.

DESTINATION

The Moon

MISSION DURATION

24 Earth days

DISTANCE

3,84,400 kms

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After hitting a maximum speed of 10.5 km per second en route to the Moon, the spacecraft will fire its rocket engines again, this time to decelerate and soft-land as the dawn breaks at the landing site. ECA, the rover, will be released to explore the vicinity of the landing site, capturing and transmitting high resolution images and attempt the first-ever near-real-time video broadcast from the lunar surface.

The mission will span over 30 days, with at least 10 Earth days of continuous operations on the surface.

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Now, the mission splits into five phases, each as challenging as the next.

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BUILD

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LAUNCH

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JOURNEY

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LAND

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EXPLORE

IT IS ROCKET SCIENCE

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Designed and integrated by a team of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, the spacecraft will hold a rocket engine, 16 thrusters, propellent tanks and a suite of commercial and experimental payloads. We have gone to great lengths to keep the craft light—even planning the landing. Since solar panels are indispensable for spacecrafts and yet, they add to the weight, we built them only on one side. This way, the craft could be directed to land in such a way that its panelled side would face the Sun fully. It is a win-win.

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T MINUS ZERO

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At launch time, the launch vehicle will hold our spacecraft in its nose cone. The launch will put the spacecraft into a Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) orbit, allowing the spacecraft to directly enter the Moon’s sphere of influence without any additional gravity burns. A direct trajectory allows us to optimize the spacecraft’s mass for maximum payload delivery to the lunar surface.

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SPACE ODYSSEY

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Once separated from the launch vehicle, the spacecraft will orbit the Earth till a manoeuvre called the trans-lunar injection is performed by which it will leave Earth’s orbit. The rocket engines will be fired to set course to the Moon. At this point, the craft will be traveling at its maximum speed of 10.5 km/s—almost 39,600 km/h for the distance of 3,84,400 km within 10 days. When roughly 100 km from the Moon, it will perform another manoeuvre called the Lunar Orbit Capture to eventually settle into a parking orbit. By now, the craft will have decelerated to 800 m/s. These extreme variations in speed will consume most of the spacecraft’s propellant.

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CONTACT LIGHT

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The landing, the most crucial phase of the mission, will be initiated at a 100 km x 100 km orbit around the Moon. The entire process will be controlled by software onboard the spacecraft using data collected from onboard sensors. These sensors will detect and analyse the surface, orienting the craft accordingly. Manual control of the craft through this high-speed phase is impossible, thus automation and preprogramming is the only way to go. At a time optimised to coincide with the lunar dawn at the landing site, the spacecraft's thrusters will be fired again to decelerate from orbit and perform a soft touchdown.

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EK CHOTI SI ASHA

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ECA or Ek Choti si Asha is one of the lightest rovers to ever visit the Moon. Her body is matchbox-like and holds a battery, computer and communication equipment to connect with the landing craft. She carries four rugged cameras, including a pair of stereo-cams that enable human-like vision. Her wheels have been designed to ensure that fine moondust does not damage the machinery.

ECA will be lowered onto the surface, will attempt to explore at least 500m around the touchdown point, capture and beam back high definition videos and images to Earth through the spacecraft.

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WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

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TeamIndus' first lunar mission is the first time that a private enterprise will soft-land on the Moon. This also marks the first time that a private enterprise from India is setting its sights on outer space. We believe that solutions for tomorrow’s challenges will follow when we break away from the dogmas of the past by questioning what is.

TeamIndus aims to be at the forefront of the cislunar marketplace. To that effect, multiple missions are planned over the next 5 years with enhanced technological capability, increased payload capacity and better deliverability.

The global efforts towards utilising cislunar space as a gateway to exploration of the inner solar system and has seen an upturn since the announcements of the current US, European, Indian and Chinese space programs. To meet this demand, TeamIndus has developed deep tech, core engineering capabilities in solution development, prototyping, supply chain management and industry relationships.

Can the Moon become the first outpost of an interplanetary species of humans? Can Helium 3 on the Moon be the solution to Earth’s energy needs? The Moon and beyond will be the future for humankind in ways unimagined.

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