Bengaluru-based space venture start-up reaches for the moon

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For the first time ever, Bengaluru-based Team Indus will carry a new line of cameras for France's national space agency CNES.

A private space venture in India has been contracted—for the first time ever—to carry a payload to the moon for an international space agency.

Bengaluru-based Team Indus will carry a new line of cameras for France's national space agency CNES, the Times of India reported. CNES is known for its cameras, which have been used in many global space missions, including the Mars Curiosity rover's laser eye that can capture a rock's composition from seven metres away.

This time, Team Indus will be carrying cameras that "reduce the size of an optical imaging instrument by a factor of ten."

The start-up will not get paid under the contract. Instead, it will get the cameras, which cost some Rs. 3.38 crore ($500,000), it needs for its moon mission for free. CNES, on the other hand, gets to test its new cameras.

Mathieu J Weiss, MD of the CNES liaison office in India and counsellor for space in the Embassy of France, told the news outlet: "A space agency like CNES is committed to innovation. So we will always go with whomever is the best in the field. Team Indus showed strong capacity and high credibility."

Founded in 2011, Team Indus made headlines in 2013 as a group of space enthusiasts working to put a spacecraft on the moon by December 2017 as part of the Google X Prize Lunar Challenge. The group, which didn’t have experience in space technology, tapped some 20 retired engineers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as well as theoretical physicist and ISRO resident intellectual V Adimurthy to help them design the craft to take to the moon, according to the Economic Times.

The start-up still needs to raise funds to cover the total project cost, which is expected to go well over Rs. 405.41 crore ($60 million). Still, Team Indus founder Rahul Narayan couldn’t help but be excited, telling TOI: "A big space agency tying up with an Indian start-up—that's huge, and reflects the maturity of our technology… These partnerships will increase our bandwidth in our life beyond the lunar mission."

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