NASA wants to buy Moon resources mined by private firms

The US wants to become a leader in the exploitation of resources found in the soil or subsoil of asteroids and the Moon     AFP  File

The US wants to become a leader in the exploitation of resources found in the soil or subsoil of asteroids and the Moon AFP File

As part of its ambitious Artemis program to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, the USA space agency said it is soliciting help from commercial sources to gain more information about the environment of the lunar surface. "Moreover, leveraging commercial involvement as part of Artemis will enhance our ability to safely return to the Moon in a sustainable, innovative, and affordable fashion", Bridenstine explained in his blog. Also, the competition is open for companies across the world.

In a separate event hosted by space policy organisation Secure World Foundation, Mr Bridenstine said that the "bottom line" was that Nasa was going to buy some lunar soil for the objective of "demonstrating it could be done", Reuters reported. "It's time to establish the regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources", Bridenstine wrote.

The company that is chosen would receive 10% of the money when awarded the contract, 10% when the rocket launches, and the rest when the mission is completed. However, the remaining fund will only be given at the time when the sample will be given to the agency. And it is not just one company that the United States space agency is looking to purchase lunar resources from.

The endeavor is meant to deliver a binding precedent for lunar surface mining that would let NASA someday collect ice, helium, or other materials helpful to sustain colonies on the Moon and Mars.

Currently, NASA has a program to contract companies, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp and Lockheed Martin to fly science experiments and cargo to the moon ahead of a human landing. This program will also be significant in preparation for crewed trips to Mars in the 2030s. The current deadline given by NASA is to send people back to the Moon. Now, the space agency aims to have the same deals for dirt collection.

Ex Journal of Space Law editor Joanne Gabrynowicz said that Nasa were paying companies to "sell them a rock that the company owns".

The US wants to become a leader in the exploitation of resources found in the soil or subsoil of asteroids and the Moon, a policy outlined in an executive order by President Donald Trump past year, despite an absence of global or legal consensus on the best way to manage extraterrestrial mining. We know a supportive policy regarding the recovery and use of space resources is important to the creation of a stable and predictable investment environment for commercial space innovators and entrepreneurs.

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