Private lunar mission: Antrix, TeamIndus terminate deal

It is official. India's fist private commercial moon mission has been called off. Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on Wednesday announced that its launch service agreement with Bengaluru-based tech startup TeamIndus has been mutually terminated.

In pursuit of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) to soft-land on the moon, move and send images back to earth, TeamIndus had signed the contract with Antrix in December 2016. Of the five finalists in competition, TeamIndus was the only Indian team. The mission had to be completed by March 31, 2018.

Reports had earlier indicated that TeamIndus' inability to raise the required funds was why the deal was called off. However, an official release  from Antrix did not cite any such reason while wishing TeamIndus "all success in its future endeavours."

Antrix Chairman and Managing Director Rakesh Sasibhushan said that the organisation was committed to encourage and promote private enterprise in space. "TeamIndus will continue with its goal of building a world-class private enterprise," he said in the release.

There was no official word from TeamIndus. But on its behalf, Sasibhushan had this to say: "Team Indus thanks Antrix for its assistance and looks forward to collaborating with us in the future to take India higher and further into space."

Under the GLXP challenge, a rover had to be put on the moon surface before travelling 500 metres to beam back high definition video footages to earth. ISRO was ready to provide the rocket. However, problems reportedly arose due to issues with contractual requirements and instalment payments.  

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