$30mn Google Lunar XPRIZE dream ends for 5 teams, including India’s Team Indus | science | Hindustan Times
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$30mn Google Lunar XPRIZE dream ends for 5 teams, including India’s Team Indus

Organisers says Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed as no team will be able to make a launch attempt by the deadline of 31 March

science Updated: Jan 24, 2018 22:32 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times
Google Lunar XPRIZE,Team Indus,Moon Mission
The Google Lunar X challenge aimed at placing a rover on the moon’s surface and taking high definition images. (Photo courtesy: lunar.xprize.org/)

No team competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge will make a launch attempt to reach the moon by March 31, organisers said this week, in a development that leaves the $30 million prize unclaimed.

There were 5 contenders for the Google Lunar XPRIZE prize:SPACEIL from Israel, Moon Express from USA, Synergy Moon, an international team, Hakuto from Japan and Team Indus from India.

The Google Lunar X challenge aimed at placing a rover on the moon’s surface and taking high definition images. The launch was scheduled for December 2017 but was postponed to March.

“This literal ‘moonshot’ is hard, and while we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed,” the X-prize organisers said in a release.

Team Indus is India’s first privately funded start-up and if its moon mission is successful it will become the first private Indian startup to land a craft on the moon.

The contract was signed with ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation Limited, to launch the indigenously developed and privately-funded lunar rover onboard ISRO’s PSLV launch vehicle.The contract was cancelled in December because of financial issues, according to ISRO officials.

The total cost of the mission was estimated a $ 65-70 million, of which the start-up had raised about $35 million (approximately ?250 crore), and was to raise the remaining amount by March 2018.

Team Indus founder and head Rahul Narayanan said that it was apparent to them in December that the mission would not happen in the set time frame.

“It was a mutually agreed closure not a termination,” Narayanan, said of the contract with Antrix, ISRO’s commercial arm.?He added that the company did not want to rush to meet the March deadline and make mistakes along the way.

“It does create a dent,” Narayanan said of the Google Lunar X challenge announcement. “Everybody would have loved it if we were successful, so would we.”

The company will be attempting to complete the mission in the coming year, Narayanan said that they were 80-85% there. ” We will go all the way to the moon,”Narayanan said.

First Published: Jan 24, 2018 20:15 IST