Shooting to the Moon

Apr 1, 2015

Right when the entire team of TEDxPSGtech were working in full swing, hours before the event kick started, one person sat excitedly in front of MR. RUEBEN FERNANDES, one of the speakers, demanding an interview session. It gave me great elations to interact with one of the youngest engineers in the proud Team Indus, the only Indian Team competing among almost 15 world nations, all to grab one massive prize – The Google Lunar X-Prize! The challenge calls for privately funded teams/organisations to successfully launch an unmanned robotic spacecraft on the moon that would explore the surface and send back analysis results and images to the earth! Team Indus aims at reaching the destination far before the others, launching two rovers – one of which will compete for the main task and the other for $5million of additional tasks!

Here are the excerpts from a live interview with a very energetic and passionate team member of a team that is by all means expected to make India proud!

What was your childhood dream?

I wanted to become an Engineer, but was not specific about the field. The reason behind this was my cousin, who was a qualified engineer. Once on a visit to his place, I got to witness one of his voice recognition projects, using which, he lit all the lights of this house, just by uttering words of their location. For Example, when the word “Gate”, is uttered, the lights near the gate were lit; when the word “Padi”(Meaning ‘Staircase’ in Tamil) is uttered, the stairs were lit beautifully. Out of stunned curiosity, I asked him what he had done, and he replied in a word – Engineering!

When did your interest in Robotics and Space spark?

I was greatly inspired by the Transformers.  (Q: You mean the movie?).  A: I mean the cartoon! (Laughs!). As a child, I grew up watching a lot of those and somewhere created an impulse that blew up and showed out when it came for me to decide what I’d do for a profession, what I’d do after Grade 12. I decided I’d go into Mechatronics, because that was the closest to my dreams, closest to following my passion. And back then, only a few colleges offered this course, and people accused that the course had vague scopes in the future. But, after my decision to follow my dreams, SRM University was an easy choice!

This Team Indus has been the only Indian team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, and it’s already among the top three. What’s your take on it?

We started off as a very small team. When I joined, there were only 11 people, a small cubicle that used to work towards a goal, without major ambitions. It was not very easy defining this goal in the beginning. But once our designs were proposed and we were announced a possible entry in the top three, we got enough boosts to speed up from there! We started building our team and professionals in this field offered guidance to launch a robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon

Can you briefly explain about what your role in the Team Indus is?

I work on the Avionics section, which means the on-board computing that takes care of the navigation and communication. If the spacecraft has to safely land on the moon, it has to execute certain tracking functions at particular timings with millisecond level accuracy. We use something called the Real Time Operating System to ensure the electronics and operation system are in good terms.

India seems to be showing immense interest, concern and enthusiasms towards making a journey to outer space. What’s your take on it?

First, I definitely feel proud. Recently, the MOM mission had a great publicity in terms of its brilliance, efficiency and veracity. Even in the international terms, the success rate of PSLV is very high. Looking at this, India seems to have high potentials on venturing into the void!

A note to students who are passionate on a similar career?

Follow your dreams. There’s no profession that can give you more satisfaction than the one that you are passionate in doing. There is one profession that every person is passionate about, and will take it up without expecting any returns or glory. It is a student’s right to dig it up and stick to it.

What’s the tagline by which you want to be remembered by the world?

“A person who did something good for Humanity”

Apart from your interest in Robotics and Space, What are the other activities that you would like to lie back and relax on?

Music. This has been a part of me since I heard anything similar to music. It is one rejuvenating factor, when I’m under stress and need a quick heal.

What’s your speculation on TEDx events? And how does it make you feel speaking in one?

Yes, it gives me great delight to be a part of TEDx which is an outstanding means for one to share his/her unique idea to the world and to change the way people think, for good. I’m going to be talking about the idea behind Team Indus and the theory that revolves in it to ultimately conquer the moon, in a speech titled “Moonstruck”!

Team Bridge wishes Team Indus a safe, successful and phenomenal journey to the moon! Let’s go “Back to the moon, for good!”


Reshma V

Reshma is a tech-savvy person who loves to explore gadgets. She is passionate about learning new languages. Being a movie buff, she also has exceptional talent in creative arts.