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TeamIndus, the first Indian space start-up, drops out of moon race

NDTV logo NDTV 09-01-2018 Edited by Anindita Sanyal

New Delhi: TeamIndus, a private company that hoped to reach the moon by December 31 this year, has dropped out of the global race for the Google Lunar X Prize. TeamIndus was competing for the $35 million prize money, for which five teams from across the world are in fray.

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The challenge involved a putting a rover on the moon which will travel 500 meters and beam back high definition video.

Sources said TeamIndus was unable to mobilise the funds or technological resources to put the mission together. It was planning to build India's first privately funded spacecraft, which would have been able to achieve a soft-landing on moon, piggybacking on Indian space agency ISRO's PSLV rocket.

Sources in the ISRO said they were ready to provide the rocket, but TeamIndus has failed to meet its contractual requirements and pay the instalments.

ISRO hopes to land a rover on moon and plant the Indian flag there in 2018 through Chandrayaan-2, which will be India's own mission.

Originally, 33 teams had entered the contest for Google's Lunar X Prize when the award was announced in 2007. By last year, the number was whittled down to five.

TeamIndus, selected to compete in the Milestone prizes, won the $1 million Milestone prize last year for their landing technology.

Besides TeamIndus, Israeli non-profit SpaceIL, US firm Moon Express, Synergy Moon, an international collaboration of space enthusiasts and Japan's space robotics expert HAKUTO were in the race.

The race to moon is among nine XPrize contests that are currently on. The competitions were designed to make big technological leaps in aerospace, medicine, education and other fields by luring new participants and private capital with big cash prizes.

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