NASA has signed a contract with a company to collect samples from the moon and will buy these samples for only $1. This was the winning bid by Colorado-based Lunar Outpost that has been awarded the contract to collect the samples from Moon’s surface.
The mission is supposed to happen in 2023 and the lander will have to collect samples from the south pole of the moon.
“You’d be surprised at what a dollar can buy you in space,” Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said in a call with reporters.
The three other companies that won the bid to collect space resources and transfer ownership to NASA include Masten Space Systems of Mojave, ispace Europe of Luxembourg, and ispace Japan of Tokyo. The new contracts will cost $25,001 to the space agency.
The objective is twofold: There is important policy and precedent that’s being set, both relative to the utilisation of space resources, and the expansion of the public and private partnerships beyond Earth orbit to the moon,
Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations
This would also pave way for companies to extract celestial bodies and then sell the resources collected. This would help in establishing a viable presence on the moon. NASA also said that it needs astronauts to “live off the land” and use resources in space.
Under the Artemis program, companies will hand over the resources and ownership to NASA of the extracted resources. The samples collected will be small lunar rocks weighing around 50g to 500g.
The mining announcement came during the same week that China landed a spacecraft on the moon, extracted resources, and then lifted off from the lunar surface in an effort to return the sample to Earth.
Instead of developing and sustaining a big government sample-return mission, NASA is taking another approach by partnering with the private sector.
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