French agency to help Indian start-up's lunar project

The national space agency of France will ink a pact with the Bengaluru-based Team Indus on Monday, to mount cameras on the rover that the aerospace start-up plans to send to the moon this December.

The Centre National d’études Spatiales (CNES) of France will ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Team Indus (registered as the Axiom Research Labs Private Limited), which is the lone participant from India in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.

The MoU will be signed during the visit of French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Bengaluru, a spokesperson of the French Embassy in New Delhi said.

The CNES will also strike a new partnership deal with the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) for cooperation in satellite launch technology, during Ayrault’s visit to Bengaluru. Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall will sign the document. Ayrault, who also holds the portfolio for international development in the French government, will visit India from January 8 to 11.

He will visit Bengaluru, New Delhi and Gandhinagar during his four-day visit.

The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is a world-wide competition for privately funded teams of entrepreneurs and engineers to land a robotic rover on the Moon. The rover will have to explore at least 500 m on the moon and send high-definition images and videos to earth. Team Indus is expected to launch the spacecraft aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle of the Isro on December 28, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

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