NASA Recruits Companies to Mine the Moon
NASA Will Pay Thousands for Moon Dirt and Moon Rocks
|Source: Moon stock image |
Moon Commercial Exploration About to Expand
NASA wants to mine the Moon. And to do so, it just announced that it's looking for companies to do lunar mining. This is a bold bid by NASA to start the commercial development of the Moon. The initial purpose is to help US astronauts establish permanent bases on the Moon and "live off the land". And, then for NASA to move forward to Mars where astronauts would need to live off the resources available there. The new program to find valuable resources on the Moon and later Mars is part of NASA's Artemis Project and it is open to international companies.
International Companies Encouraged to Participate
NASA is looking for private companies, that are already part of space explorations, to collect rocks and dirt from the lunar surface and sell them to NASA, as part of a technology development project. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted: "NASA is buying lunar soil from a commercial provider. It's time to establish the regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources." He added this is in total compliance with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which stipulates that no nation can lay sovereign claims to the Moon and other celestial bodies.
NASA anticipates paying $15,000 to $25,000 for between 50 to 500 grams of lunar material. The process will come down to bidding between NASA and the parties. NASA will determine how to transport the materials to earth, anticipating that the materials will be mined by companies working on the Moon and that the cost of bringing them back to Earth would be quite expensive. NASA would assume the cost.
The Value of the Lunar Material Isn't Known
What's fascinating is that a space mining race is now getting underway. NASA says it has no idea what valuable resources might be on the surface of the Moon, such as water and precious metals. This NASA initiative puts lunar commercialization onto the fast track. NASA is targeting a return to the Moon by US astronauts in 2024 and the lunar mining contracts are a big part of the preparation for that mission.