Nasa will be paying USD $1 to Colorado-based company to collect a small sample of rocks from the moon.
Lunar Outpost is a robotics firm, will collect moon rocks from the lunar South Pole.
It is among four firms awarded contracts to retrieve lunar regolith, or moon soil, for the US space agency, for a total of USD $ 25,001.
NASA said that the companies will receive 10% of their total proposed price upon award, 10% upon launch, and the remaining 80% upon successful completion.
Nasa will use the soil in its Artemis programme, which aims to send the next man and a woman to the moon by 2024.
It is also trying to establish a business model for the extraction, sale and use of off-Earth resources.
The other winning bidders were California-based Masten Space Systems and Tokyo-based ispace, along with its European subsidiary.
Nasa will be paying the companies for individual collections of lunar regolith between 50g and 500g in weight.
“The companies will collect the samples and then provide us with visual evidence and other data that they’ve been collected,” a spokesman for Nasa said in a statement. Once this has happened, ownership of the material will transfer to Nasa.
The funding is so low because Nasa is only paying for the collection of the regolith, not any of the companies’ development or transport costs, agency officials said.
The fee is not the motivation for these companies. There are expected to be many scientific benefits to the mission, such as allowing firms to practice extracting resources from the lunar surface.