Aerospace startup Team Indus has stopped its pursuit of $20 million Google Lunar XPrize, the global competition to get a robotic rover to travel 500 metres on moon and transmit pictures from there. Team Indus, one of the five finalists of the competition, had won $1 million three years ago.
The company said in a statement that it terminated its launch contract with Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm. Team Indus had informed Lunar XPrize its inability to meet the 31 March 2018 deadline and the latter decided not to extend the deadline any further.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Antrix and Team Indus said they are mutually terminating the launch service agreement signed in 2016.
"Antrix remains committed to encouraging and promoting private enterprise in space. Team Indus will continue with its goal of building a world class private aerospace company. Team Indus also thanks Antrix for its assistance and looks forward to collaborating with Antrix in the future to take India further into space. Antrix takes this opportunity to wish Team Indus all success in its future endeavours,” said the statement.
Founded in February 2011 by IIT-Delhi alumnus Rahul Narayan and Indranil Chakraborty and incorporated as Axiom Research Labs Pvt. Ltd, Team Indus attracted angel investments from the likes of Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Sasken Communications' Raji Mody and TVS Group's Venu Srinivasan. It has also received funding from Jagdish Mehta of CTS India, Aspire Systems's Gowri Subramanian, Anand Deshpande of Persistent Systems and stock market investors Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Ashish Kacholia and RK Damani. It had pursued a large institutional round but did not have much success there.
Digital news platform The Ken had reported earlier this month about Team Indus’ inability to meet the extended Lunar XPrize deadline of March 31. CNBC, earlier this week, said Google would not extend the deadline and the competition could end with no winner.
"Team Indus has been in talks with the Google Lunar XPrize over the past few weeks and had expressed its inability to meet the 31 March 2018 deadline to complete 500 meter traversal on the moon. We respect the decision by the organisers not to extend the competition deadline any further and thank them for having created a unique platform that unleashed innovation, created newer technologies and drew in teams from various backgrounds to solve problems of enabling human exploration beyond the Earth’s orbit," Team Indus said.
"We have amicably and mutually closed our launch services agreement with Antrix. We continue to look towards Antrix and ISRO as our preferred partners of choice for all our future endeavours," it said.