NASA wants to retake its chances and encourage the private exploration of the moon. The agency has already booked robotic rides to the moon specifically made for commercial landers. It wants to do the same for crewed missions. They have in plan to pay private companies to collect the moon dirt. According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, “The bottom line is, we’re gonna buy some lunar soil for the purpose of demonstrating that it can be done.”
So the plan is: NASA wants to pay private companies from both the United States or abroad, to gather between 1.8 ounces and 18 ounces – that’s 50 to 500 grams – of lunar soil until 2024. Then, they want to transfer the ownership of the stuff to the space agency. For every catch, the space agency wants to pay between $15,000 to $25,000. 80% of the money will be given after the samples are collected. When signing a contract, companies will get about 10% and then 10% after launching the spacecraft.
The space agency wants to bring the lunar samples on the Earth at some point. Right now, they have enough to study – 382 kilograms of lunar material from the Apollo mission. What they want to do, actually, is to normalize the extraction and the sale of lunar resources. The companies that sign the contract can collect as much as they want, give a part to NASA, then sell what’s left to whoever wants to buy it.
According to Bridenstine, “Right now, we’re trying to prove the concept that resources can be extracted, and they can be traded. And not just traded among companies or private individuals, but also among countries and across borders — private individuals in other countries.”