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Regardless of whether they reach the moon, Sheelika Ravishankar shares how Team Indus has inspired many Indians to dream big!
In 2007, Google announced the Google Lunar Xprize competition that challenged privately funded teams to work on a mission – The Moon. The competition required the teams to land a rover on the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit high definition images back to Earth.
Indians have always had a relationship with the moon, be it the fantasies fed throughout our childhood or ISRO’s Chandrayan. But it was not until Team Indus entered as a last minute contestant and emerged as one of the five finalists of the Lunar Xprize, that landing on the moon became ‘Har Indian ka Moonshot’ (every Indian’s moonshot).
In the words of Sheelika Ravishankar who heads Outreach at Team Indus, it is representative of all exciting things about India – a mix of a young team, the entrepreneurial spirit, unreasonable craziness and the fact that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. From being the dream of a handful of people who wanted to represent India in the Global competition, Team Indus today has pulled in almost a 100 people to work on sending a spacecraft to the moon. Going by statistics, more and more young graduates are opting to work for start-ups rather than going the safe corporate way. The young generation today believes that they can make a difference.
Not only has Team Indus pulled in hundreds of people for their mission, they have contributed directly and indirectly in inspiring and giving hope to millions of people in India and around the world. Sheelika Ravishankar says, “We realized that the impact of this (mission) is far more than landing on the moon. It has to be something that sustains inspiration. A fine example is our Moonshot wheels, which is basically a bus designed like a small planetorium with a model rover, simulated lunar surface, in house projection and experiments that travels across India from government school to government school. One girl in a school in Rajasthan was awed by it and said, “If they can go to the moon, I can do so much here”. In one year, Moonshot Wheels has touched the lives of around 42000 children and has created inspiration and excitement”
Team Indus currently has a 1:5 women to men ratio. There are fine examples of women on Team Indus who have broken the glass ceiling, braved all the odds that society has to offer and aimed for the moon, literally.
Google’s Lunar Xprize announced on January 2018 that there would be no winner and no team would be able to make a launch attempt by the deadline of March 2018 due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges. Irrespective of that, Team Indus has had a long journey.
Rahul Narayanan, an IIT Delhi Alumnus and Founder of Team Indus shares his crazy journey right from entering the competition to building the rover ECA (‘Ek choti si asha’) to unlocking a whole new industry in the country. Regardless of whether Team Indus emerges a winner or not, they have showed us how to aim for the moon even if you end up reaching for the stars.
Watch me talk to Rahul Narayanan and Sheelika Ravishankar of Team Indus as they trace their journey from the Lunar Xprize to what they are currently today.
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