A view of the Team Indus lunar rover.
A view of the Team Indus lunar rover.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Team Indus have secured a launch contract with India’s Space Research Organization to send a rover to the Moon as part of the Google-sponsored Lunar XPrize Competition, meaning the race is now on with four teams competing for the grand prize.

The XPrize Foundation verified the contract, which said Team Indus’s lander and rover have been pegged for a December 2017 landing on the lunar surface atop a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The rocket will lift off from the Bangalore launch facility, and the rocket will insert the Team Indus spacecraft into an elliptical transfer orbit. The spacecraft, from there, will navigate itself on a 21-day trek to the Moon. Its targeted landing site is the Mare Imbrium region, the same are China landed its first rover back in 2013.

One of the requirements of the XPrize competition is that all teams must have an official launch contract and that it must be verified by the foundation. Team Indus is now the fourth team to receive the coveted seal of approval from the XPrize Foundation. Any team not securing a verified contract may not be able to continue in the competition after this year.

In 2015, SpaceIL and Moon Express were the first to receive verified contracts, followed by Synergy Moon in August of this year. A fifth team, PT Scientists, announced last month that they came to an agreement with Spaceflight Industries to transport their Audi lunar rover to the moon. That team, however, is still working on the verification of their contract.

Through the Google Lunar X Prize competition, the foundation is offering a grand prize of $20 million to the first team who lands on the Moon, travels a minimum distance of 500 meters, and returns photos or videos — all by the end of 2017.

The mission is estimated to cost around $65 million. Team Indus hopes to raise the necessary funds through sponsorships, by selling shares of the company, and through a crowdfunding campaign they expect to launch in January.