Making Vizag proud, Andhra University’s alumni bagged the third prize in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) prestigious Lunar Delivery Challenge. The competition was organised to seek ideas from the public for practical, and cost-effective solutions, to unload payloads onto the lunar surface for NASA’s upcoming Artemis Programme.
The Lunar Delivery Challenge received 224 entries across the globe before the submission period closed on January 19, 2021. Shortlisting six of the ideas, NASA awarded $25,000 in total prizes to the teams. Team AA-Star, an interdisciplinary collaboration of three youngsters from Andhra Pradesh, designed a Lunar Transporter and Gantry (L-TAG). This entry ranked third, securing prize money of $2,000.
The winning trio at the Lunar Delivery Challenge includes Narayana Murthy Pappala, and Sai Ashish Kumar Karanam from Vizag, along with Amareswara Prasad Chunduru from Tenali. Mr Pappala, the team captain, has a master’s degree in information technology with 12 years of experience. Amareswara Prasad Chunduru is specialised in electro-mechanical engineering and Sai Ashish Kumar Karanam, is a master’s degree holder in machine design. Notably, Mr Chunduru and Mr Karanam are alumni of Andhra University. Upon receiving the news, the Andhra University Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor PVGD Prasad Reddy, congratulated the team on their victory.
The L-TAG operates in two phases. In the first phase, an inflatable gantry crane deploys to unload the payload. In the second phase, the transporter vehicle is responsible for carrying the payload to the lunar base. The vehicle can travel at a speed of 200 meters per hour on the rugged lunar terrain. The crane and vehicle can move a mass of 12 metric tonnes, which is important while considering larger payloads, such as hardware, needed to build lunar habitats. A deployable shield, around the vehicle, protects the payload from lunar dust and micrometeoroid impacts.