BENGALURU: Bengaluru-based TeamIndus, which recently lost its chance to make it to be the first private entity to be on the moon as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE Challenge, is not giving up on its efforts to still achieve that goal. The company’s spacecraft and rover -- named ECA, for Ek Choti Asha -- was earlier scheduled to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on board its workhorse polar satellite launch vehicle.
However, due to the company falling short on funds, ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporatioon, which was in agreement with TeamIndus to launch their mission, officially terminated the agreement through mutual consent. Just three days ago, however, TeamIndus, through a blog post on media.com, has said while referring to the agreement termination: “While that may mean that we will not meet the current Google Lunar XPRIZE timeline of March 31, 2018, we continue our endeavour to become the world’s first private space exploration mission and are exploring alternate launch providers for the same…” In that direction, TeamIndus has some plans up its sleeves, although they have not specified them.
“The domain of space was always expected to be an expensive proposition. Our mission to the Moon is expected to cost us $60 million, of which we have raised a little more than 50%. We are looking at commercially viable means of raising the rest of the financing needed, including expanding our payload delivery capacity and international funding,” the company said in its post. “We had successfully completed qualification tests of our spacecraft and our rover ECA. At this point we can put together the flight model of the spacecraft in under six months ready to go once we have our updated launch date,” the company said.
Team To Refund Money
Although TeamIndus never publicly launched its crowd-funding initiative, “We had over 9,000 folks who signed up for our Million2Moon programme by paying up Rs. 500 (each) to send the names of their loved ones to the Moon on board our spacecraft. The support was hugely encouraging and we look forward to it in the future too. Until we have a definitive fly-by date, it is only fair we return this money. We have initiated the process to effect a full refund of these transactions,” the company said in the blog.