NASA seeking companies to help mine the moon

James Marshall
September 12, 2020

NASA on Thursday launched an effort to pay companies to mine resources on the moon, announcing it would buy from them rocks, dirt and other lunar materials as the USA space agency seeks to spur private extraction of coveted off-world resources for its use. And it's starting with a request for moon dirt and rocks.

Therefore, the companies who are ready for this task will get a small amount of money from NASA.

NASA is officially in limelight now for the Moon rocks. The main requirement for the agency, which poses them as a challenge, is that they want small rock samples of the Moon's surface.

Eventually, NASA will retrieve the rock samples and bring them back to Earth. Will be paid to about $ 300 a gram. Although in reality, lunar dust is not what NASA is most interested in right now. Thus, the proposed amount may seem meager when compared to the cost it takes to send a probe to the Moon. However, this new proposal is aimed at creating a lunar marketplace. Hence, the excess lunar rocks collected by companies could be sold to private buyers. "And not just traded among companies or private individuals, but also among countries and across borders, private individuals in other countries". This is also open to companies internationally, so it's not just for USA private space companies, and it's also possible that NASA will make more than one award under the program.

The NASA Administrator said that when considering such proposals to buy lunar resources from private companies, the agency will require that "all actions be taken in a transparent fashion, in full compliance with the Registration Convention, Article II and other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, and all of our other global obligations".

It's worth noting that this is separate from NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which offers contracts for transporting experiments to the lunar surface aboard landers - but you can bet some of those startups and companies will be vying for the chance to use said landers and robotic rovers in development to pick up some Moon dirt for NASA.

The contract doesn't actually involve getting to the Moon itself - a feat only achieved by the national space agencies of three countries - but instead envisages companies designing a robot that NASA or major private sector players can then launch. The aim is to have a long-term presence on the Moon rather than short trips. NASA has cast such as mission as a precursor to a future first human voyage to Mars.

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