National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has inked a $1deal with a Colorado-based company to collect rocks and dust from the moon
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has inked a $1deal with a Colorado-based company to collect rocks and dust from the moon. As a part of the contract, the robotics firm named Lunar Outpost would collect regolith or lunar soil and share information on its location with NASA. As per a NASA press release, Lunar Outpost would share the contract worth $25,001 with three other firms.
The other companies which have secured the deal include California based Masten Space System and Tokyo based ispace and its European subsidiary. All the companies are only being paid for extraction and not for the cost incurred by space travel. However, the fee does not hold prime importance for the companies as they are hoping for other benefits including a license to further extract resources from the lunar surface,
“These awards expand NASA’s innovative use of public-private partnerships to the Moon. We’re excited to join with our commercial and international partners to make Artemis the largest and most diverse global human space exploration coalition in history,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations. “Space resources are the fuel that will propel America and all of humanity to the stars.”
In a statement, NASA revealed that it would use the collected material to prep for its upcoming lunar mission which is set to send humans to the lunar surface in by 2024. In addendum, the regolith would also aid the American space agency in setting up the business model for extraction, sale and use of off-earth resources.
“Subsequent to receiving such imagery and data, an “in-place” transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith to NASA will take place. After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program,” NASA said.
China collects regolith
This comes as China’s Chang’e-5 probe that touched down on the Moon transferred the rock samples it collected from the lunar surface to its orbiter on Sunday, the country’s space agency said. Chang’e-5 probe, comprising an orbiter, a lander, an ascender, and a returner, was launched on November 24, and its lander-ascender combination touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also known as the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon on December 1.
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