The American space organisation NASA wants to cooperate with commercial companies to collect moon soil and rocks. The organisation has published a document in which companies are proposed to collect and sell moon soil. Preferably before 2024, the year in which NASA wants to put people back on the moon.
NASA pays between 15,000 and 25,000 dollars for the lunar soil, depending on the weight (between 50 to 500 grams). Companies are required to provide either a photograph as evidence or a photograph along with the exact location so that the samples can be picked up by NASA missions. So companies do not have to bring the moon stones to Earth themselves.
The Americans want to use the samples for research, NASA top executive Jim Bridenstine writes in a blog. At the same time, the space organisation wants to encourage companies to extract lunar raw materials in this way.
The scientific insights we gain from robust, sustainable and safe lunar research will benefit all of humanity, says Bridenstine.
It is expected that companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, led by the businessmen Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, will now be more inclined to equip their lunar lands – which are still under development – with excavation equipment, for example, according to techsite The Verge.
NASA sees the extraction and use of lunar raw materials as essential in, for example, the plan to keep astronauts on the moon for a long time.
These resources are also incredibly important for future missions to Mars, says Bridenstine. That’s why we need to continue enthusiastically on the surface of the moon to develop techniques and gain experience when it comes to the use of extraterrestrial material
Later, for example, the organisation hopes to mine the ice on the polar caps of the moon for drinking water and rocket fuel.
In this video you can already see what the new lunar missions will look like in the coming years:
According to NASA, the call does not violate the 1967 Space Treaty, which agreed that countries cannot claim celestial bodies. Indeed, according to NASA, any company in the world can apply and the lunar soil will not be in American ownership until it has been paid for.
The project fits in with NASA’s plans to increasingly commercialise space travel. Last year, for example, the space organisation opened up the ISS space station for commercial use. In May, SpaceX was the first commercial company to launch a manned space capsule, with two NASA astronauts on board.