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Bengaluru start-up's moonshot mission in jeopardy after ISRO cancels contract

Bengaluru start-up's moonshot mission in jeopardy after ISRO cancels contract

The GLXP, or Moon 2.0, is a challenge where teams compete for a chance to be the first private moon mission and $30 million prize. While going certainly seems bleak, the company is looking at overseas partners for the launch as ISRO is the only option for space launches in India. TeamIndus had reportedly raised more than half of the approximately Rs 450 crore funding required for the mission and was working on crowdfunding to raise more money before the deadline. Team Indus had hired retired Isro scientists to guide its team to build a spacecraft and rover, but could not mobilise the Rs 2.2 billion to Rs 2.25 billion needed to hire a dedicated Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

Google Lunar XPRIZE The USD 30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to develop low-priced methods of robotic space exploration.

The winning team gets an award of $20 million, reported The Times of India.

Sputnik contacted TeamIndus and ISRO on the issue but they did not provide any information regarding the cancelation of the contract.

There had been five contenders for the prize at the start of 2017: America's Moon Express, Israel's SpaceIL, India's TeamIndus, Japan's Team Hakuto and an worldwide collaboration called Synergy Moon.

TeamIndus had signed a contract with the Indian Space Research Organization's commercial wing Antrix Corporation to launch the world's first private mission to the moon.

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TeamIndus and ISRO had planned to launch the rover by March 31, so that it would reach the moon by the end of the year. He said on a television programme during a recent FICCI meet in Delhi, "There are a lot of challenges [for TeamIndus], both in terms of technology and their constraint in getting the funds they require for it".

Speculation is rife in the past few months that the government was keen that Isro's second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, with a lander and rover, should land on the moon before TeamIndus.

However, the ISRO contract-cancellation will derail the entire preparation of TeamIndus and its race to the Google Lunar Xprize championship.

Officials of Antrix and TeamIndus declined to respond to queries about this mission.

Initially, 33 teams had entered the GLXP contest before the number was filtered to five including TeamIndus. The government would have been left with egg on its face if TeamIndus had gone ahead of Isro, " said a space expert. TeamIndus has for long maintained in its Facebook and Twitter accounts that it was ready to head for the moon.


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