NASA recently announced that it is scouting for private companies that would like to go to the moon, collect rocks and dust from the surface and bring them back to Earth.
The space agency plans on buying the moon samples for amounts between $15,000-$25,000 for 50 to 500 grams.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, announced last Thursday that the collection of moon material would be a part of a technology development program to help astronauts ‘live off the land’ for crewed space flights to the moon or another place in the future.
The collection is also a part of the Artemis Lunar Exploration Program from NASA, which was established in 2019 to land U.S. astronauts on the moon. This is including their plans to land the first woman on the moon, by the year 2024.
NASA has revealed that missions further out into space, such as to Mars, will need resources that have been mined locally.
Additionally, Bridenstine stated that the project would act in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. For those who may not be familiar with this treaty, it simply states that no country is at liberty to lay a sovereign claim to celestial bodies, including the moon.
Earlier this year in May, NASA revealed the Artemis Accords, which are a legal framework whose work would be to govern the behaviors of companies and countries on the moon and in space. The accords also include safety zones that were created with the singular intent of making it known where exploration and mining would take place on the moon.
Bridenstine told a forum that was held by the Secure World Foundation that the policies that would be used to govern celestial body mining were almost the same as the ones that exist for world oceans currently. He also expressed that NASA was confident that they could extract as well as utilize resources of the moon, just like the mining that takes place on earth.
This isn’t the only contract that NASA has had with private companies though. In a separate program, NASA has contracted companies to ship science experiments as well as cargo to the lunar surface. These companies include SpaceX, Astrobotic, Sierra Nevada Corp, Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin.
Bridenstine expressed his thoughts on these companies, stating that some of them might be interested in lunar mining as well. Is this an offer that entities like Kingman Minerals Ltd. (TSX.V: KGS) are willing to consider? Only time will tell!
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