TeamIndus is one of 5 companies selected for Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, and has to launch its moon rover by March 2018. But it’s $23 million short.
An Indian private sector effort to land a rover on the moon to compete for a global competition is in danger of not even getting off the ground. With the deadline for launch barely four months away, a major part of the required funding is still to be raised.
TeamIndus, one of the five companies selected for Google’s Global Lunar XPrize competition announced in 2007, has been struggling to raise funds to meet tech deadlines for the launch. Google has extended the deadline a few times, but March 2018 could be the final deadline.
While TeamIndus – consisting of several engineers, specialists and finance experts – has signed a deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation to book the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle for a potential launch, funding issues have even resulted in a few missed payments, sources said.
Rahul Narayan of TeamIndus admitted that a part of the budget is yet to be raised, although he did not directly comment on the missed payments.
“TeamIndus inked its launch services agreement with Antrix (the commercial arm of ISRO) in late 2016. The entire TeamIndus moon mission programme is expected to cost approximately $70 million, of which nearly two-thirds has already been committed. We do not comment on individual cost line items in accordance to our agreements with various partners,” Narayan said.
This would mean that the team still requires over $23 million in funds to meet its target. The company also has limited time left to complete its developmental work for the moon rover.
“We have completed the qualification process for the spacecraft structure, avionics and software – integration of the flight model is in progress. The Google Lunar XPrize competition deadline is 31 March 2018. We are working closely with Antrix to ascertain the new launch slot, our mission is designed to provide for two launch opportunities of three days each every month,” Narayan said.
Sources in TeamIndus told ThePrint that meeting the March deadline may not be possible due to both technical and financial barriers. However, an extension in deadline and significant fund raising could give new life to the initiative.