NASA is on the lookout for firms who will take up mining operations on the moon.
The space agency, wants to take steps towards building a marketplace where items from space can be sold and bought like other products.
NASA says it would buy the samples companies bring back from the moon. They’d pay between US$ 15,000 to US$ 25,000 for amounts between 50 to 500 grams.
“The requirements we’ve outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon “dirt” or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an “in-place” transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to Nasa,” said the agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of Nasa for our use.”
The plans are all part of Nasa’s Artemis program which aims to send US astronauts, including the first woman, to the Moon by 2024. The agency says it wants to place humans back on the Moon in a sustainable way instead of astronauts being sent there for quick trips.
This would include making use of resources that are already on the Moon including the dirt on its surface which Nasa thinks could be used for construction and water ice which is believed to be in the Moon’s south pole to be used as drinking water or rocket fuel.
Nasa’s goal is that companies who take up the challenge would be able to retrieve the Moon samples and transfer of ownership to the agency before 2024.
The agency hopes the move will help prepare their teams for missions further afield.
“Right now, we’re trying to prove the concept that resources can be extracted, and they can be traded,” Bridenstine said in an online presentation after Nasa announced its plans. “And not just traded among companies or private individuals, but also among countries and across borders — private individuals in other countries.”