Mid-way through 2016, Team Indus set up Lab2Moon – a competition challenging small teams of participants under the age of 25 to imagine, design and build an experiment which would help humans become a multi-planetary species. The experiment needed to be no larger than a regular drinks can, weigh less than 250g and be compatible with the spacecraft’s on-board computer. The winners would be given the opportunity to develop their experiment for flight on the Team Indus lunar lander to the moon, being the first student experiments on the lunar surface.
The deadline for initial entry was September 2016 for which the 3000 registered teams each submitted a 2 page concept note and short video describing their idea and why it should be flown to the moon. Over the next two months, the judges whittled the entries down to a shortlist of 25 teams to progress to the second round.
LunaDome was one of the 25 shortlisted teams and the only one representing the UK – an achievement the team was very proud of. The next challenge was to develop the concept into a working prototype. The first task was to meet with staff at the University of Bath to see what support they could offer. We were granted access to a state of the art 3D printing lab normally reserved for PhD students which helped us to develop our bespoke parts. The Engineering department also agreed to donate £2,000 which set us going on funding the development, procurement and manufacture of the final prototype.
Around January time, each shortlisted team held a design review with Team Indus to discuss how we had progressed with our prototype development. Since LunaDome was in the closing stages of design and assembly, our meeting with Team Indus was successful so they put us through to the final round, taking place at their HQ in Bangalore. Now competing against 14 other finalists, we presented our prototype to a panel of expert judges over three intensive days of pitching and Q&A sessions . Read our full story here.
From the initial entry pool of over 3000 teams from 13 countries, the judges chose LunaDome as one of the winning teams to develop a flight model of our experiment, integrate it with the lunar lander and send it to the moon in March! We we are currently developing the technical aspects of the project alongside teams from India, Italy and Peru while trying to secure $500,000 of sponsorship in the UK to pay for the flight costs.