The U.S. space agency announces contracts awarded to four companies to collect Earth from the moon for $ 1 to $ 15,000.
NASA pays a company just $ 1 to collect moon samples for the US space agency.
NASA announced Thursday that it has hired four companies to contract lunar soil for $ 1 to $ 15,000. These are rock bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for the future use of space resources by the private sector.
The contracts are with Lunar Outpost in Golden, Colorado for USD 1. ispace Japan of Tokyo for $ 5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for USD 5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $ 15,000.
“I find it amazing that we can buy lunar regolites from four companies for a total of $ 25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.
The companies plan to carry out the collection during previously planned unmanned missions to the moon in 2022 and 2023.
The companies are to collect a small amount of lunar soil, known as regolith, from the moon and provide NASA with images of the collection and material.
Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and will become “the sole property of NASA for use by the agency under the Artemis program”.
As part of the program, NASA plans to land a person on the moon by 2024 and lay the foundation for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.
“Setting the precedent is a very important part of our work today,” said Mike Gold, NASA assistant administrator for international and inter-agency relations.
“We believe it is very important to set the precedent that private sector companies can extract and use, but NASA can buy and use them to not only drive NASA’s activities, but also an entirely new dynamic era for public and private sector to advance private development and exploration of the moon. “
The companies plan to carry out the collection during previously planned unmanned missions to the moon in 2022 and 2023 [File: NASA/Central Press/Getty Images]All knowledge gained on the moon would be of crucial importance for a later mission to Mars.
“The human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations. That is why it is so important to learn from our experiences on the moon and apply these lessons to Mars,” said Gold.
The US is trying to set a precedent as there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space.
China and Russia have not reached an agreement with the US on this issue.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague, but regards space as “not subject to national appropriation through sovereignty, use or occupation, or otherwise”.