NASA offers to pay for future moon samples, Report

Pablo Tucker
September 12, 2020

NASA is looking for private companies from around the world that can grab lunar dirt and rocks, setting off the process of creating a new marketplace for space resources.

This week NASA announced that it's enlisting the assistance of private commercial companies to gather exotic resources for them to buy, including rocks and soil samples picked up and left on the Moon, not actually hauled back to our Big Blue Marble. This competition may include one or more awards as well. And it anticipates paying roughly between $15,000 and $25,000 for each cache. NASA's payment is exclusively for the lunar regolith, with any awardee receiving 10 percent at award, 10 percent upon launch, and the remaining 80 percent upon successful completion.

NASA put out a call asking companies to submit their proposals and says it's open to working with companies outside of the US. After the collection company transfers ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks over to NASA, Bridenstine writes that "the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use". The solicitation creates a full and open competition, not limited to US companies, and the agency may make one or more awards. The bids must be submitted by October 2, however. NASA through this proposal wants to attract companies to explore commercial mining on the Moon.


"It's time for regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources", Bridenstine said in a tweet. These space resources will take place off-world. The President's Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources clarifies Congress' intent clarifies that it is the policy of the United States to encourage international support for the public and private recovery and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law.

Earlier this year, NASA unveiled its Artemis Accords legal framework that governs the behavior of countries and companies in the space and on the Moon, in particular.

NASA hopes to excavate lunar ice from the polar regions to supply both drinking water and to split the molecules apart to make rocket fuel for the onward journey.


Despite the criticism, NASA is eager to explore the concept before it sends the first woman and the next man to the Moon through Artemis Mission in 2024 and to Mars in the future. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV.


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