NASA wants to buy minerals from moon, and is looking for companies to travel to space mining.
The service accepts offers from explorers anywhere on Earth who are willing to fund their own trips to the moon and collect soil or rock samples without actually returning the material to Earth. The effort is aimed at creating a legal framework for the extraction of the lunar surface that would allow NASA to collect ice one day, helium or other materials useful for the colonies on the moon and eventually him Mars.
Η National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA also wants to demonstrate the potential for "on-site resource utilization" or the use of local materials for future space missions, it said Thursday. Expects to pay between $ 15.000 and $ 25.000 per contract, service manager said Jim Bridenstine, although the final pricing will be determined by competition.
The activities, beyond the terrestrial airplane, currently governed by the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty. USA, bans alien military bases or nuclear weapons and essentially requires nations to explore peacefully and clean up their own "garbage".
In particular, the treaty stipulates that space is not subject to "national property with a claim to sovereignty, use or possession or by any other means". But it is not specifically about space mining.
"It is time for regulatory certainty to export and exchange space resources," Bridenstine said in a tweet.
The winning bidder will collect up to 500 grams of lunar material, photograph it, document its location and then "make an on-the-spot transfer of ownership of lunar material or rocks to NASA," the agency said in a blog post. NASA will arrange for any recovery plans for the material later.
Among the most likely contenders to operate a route to the moon are six companies, including Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Elon Musk and Astrobotic Technology Inc., which have already collected NASA contracts to land cargo or astronauts on the lunar surface. NASA has selected three companies for each of these roles as part of the Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.
The company, which has been awarded a $ 300 million contract for lunar payloads, plans to make its first voyage in 2021. It charges customers $ 1,2 million per kilogram for moon landing payloads. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.
NASA will only pay for the lunar material shipped and contractors will be responsible for the costs associated with the mission, NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz told e-mail.