BENGALURU: The cancelling of the rocket launch contract between India’s TeamIndus, one of five global competitors for the Google Lunar XPRIZE Challenge, and Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), was formally announced on Thursday by both parties marking an end to the efforts of the team to land a rover on the moon and send back data to win a $30 million prize.
Antrix on Wednesday termed the decision to terminate the launch services agreement as ‘mutual’. In a statement, Antrix Chairman and Managing Director Rakesh Sasibhushan, said, “Antrix remains committed to encouraging and promoting private enterprise in space. Antrix takes this opportunity to wish TeamIndus all success in its future endeavours.”
The contract signed between Antrix and TeamIndus in 2016 stipulated that ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) — ISRO’s workhorse rocket — was to be used to put the spacecraft with the rover in orbit around the moon.
However, recently, Antrix is said to have terminated the contract due to pending payments by the team which was struggling to raise enough funds for the project. With the deadline for the project completion (March 31, 2018) fast approaching and Google stating that it would not extend the deadline a third time, the termination of the launch contract signalled the end of the competition for TeamIndus and most likely for Hakuto, a Japanese team which was competing and was working with TeamIndus as well.
In a statement shared on Thursday, TeamIndus said they had spoken to Google Lunar XPRIZE and informed them that they would not be able to meet the March 31, 2018 deadline. TeamIndus also termed the ending of the launch agreement with Antrix as amicable and mutual.
NO WINNERS FOR THE PRIZE
Interestingly, all five teams in the challenge — the other four being Japanese Hakuto, Israeli team SpaceIL, the American team Moon Express, and an international team Synergy Moon — have expressed their inability to meet the deadline and with no possibility of an extension, the journey that started in 2007 would draw to an end this March. As for TeamIndus, the company will now focus on ‘repeatedly delivering increased capacity, precision of payload to