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Lunar probe race to end without victor

Lunar probe race to end without victor

Now, over a half decade removed from the contest's original end date, the company is finally throwing in the towel and declaring that there is no victor. After extending the deadline for the Lunar XPrize twice already, the tech giant has said it won't do it again.

The Lunar XPrize was launched in 2007 on the heels of the success of the Ansari XPrize-the first of its kind. Messrs. Diamandis and Shingles also said that teams participating in the competition have raised more than $300 million through sponsorships and investments.

Five teams from countries including Japan, the United States and Israel are taking part. The teams were challenged to develop and launch robotic lunar landers using mostly private funding. However, the competition extended the prize several times as teams experienced technical and fundraising delays.

"Antrix and Teamlndus are mutually terminating the launch services agreement signed in 2016", a release signed by Antrix Chairman cum Managing Director Rakesh Sasibhushan said, making the official announcement after weeks of speculation over the fate of the much-hyped mission.

After 10 years (including on extension) and 16 original contenders, it looks like Google's Lunar $20 million Xprize will go unclaimed by the March 31 launch deadline.

The foundation says it expected "a victor by now" but remaining fundraising, technical and regulatory hurdles mean the Lunar Xprize "will go unclaimed". But what the contest also did, Diamandis and Shingles, say, is show that space exploration is possible beyond the limitations we've often experienced it by.

Similar to Team Indus, the other finalists of the Lunar XPRIZE are also going through the similar fate. Many now believe it's no longer the sole purview of a few government agencies, but now may be achieved by small teams of entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators from around the world.

The X Prize Foundation statement didn't indicate if it sought from Google another extension of the competition.

Even though there will be no actual moonshots, the lunar prize did spark many worthwhile achievements. The Japanese team, called Hakuto, includes members of space-industry startups and university researchers.

A $30 million prize earmarked for the first private company to make it to the moon will go unclaimed. Thanking partners and supporters over the seven-year journey, TeamIndus said, "We are working closely with all of them to ascertain their role as we expand our horizons and work on repeatedly delivering increased capacity, precision of payload to the Moon". If every XPRIZE competition we launch has a victor, we are not being audacious enough, and we will continue to launch competitions that are literal or figurative Moonshots, pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Of the five finalists in competition, TeamIndus was the only Indian team. "The competition has always been a sweetener in the landscape of the business case, but it's never been the business case itself", Bob Richards, chief executive of Moon Express, wrote in a recent op-ed.

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