NASA announced today that it is soliciting commercial companies to collect space resources, including lunar ‘dust’ – and sell them to them.
The requirements state that companies must collect rocks from the lunar surface, take a photo as evidence, and then turn them over to NASA. “After transfer of ownership, the material collected becomes the exclusive property of NASA for our use,” according to a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“We are putting our policies into practice to fuel a new era of exploration and discovery that will benefit all of humanity,” Bridenstine wrote.
NASA wants to recover the first lunar rocks “before 2024”.
Any company, US or international, that collects moon rocks will receive “ten percent upon award, ten percent upon launch, and the remaining 80 percent upon completion,” according to NASA. The agency will figure out how to retrieve the samples later.
NASA is offering between $15,000 and $25,000 for the rocks themselves, The Verge reported . It may seem like a tiny sum, but the idea behind this initiative is to open a market for the buying and selling of moon rocks and other space resources.
The initiative follows US President Donald Trump’s executive order last April, in which he asked the United States to “direct the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and use, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations”.