Nasa has announced it is looking for private companies to go to the moon and collect dust and rocks from the surface and bring them back to Earth. The American space agency would then buy the moon samples in amounts between 50 to 500 grams for between $15,000 to $25,000. Nasa already has a separate program to contract companies to fly science experiments and cargo to the moon ahead of a human landing. Those include Astrobotic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp and Lockheed Martin.
The moon rock collection would become part of a technology development program that would help astronauts “live off the land” for crewed missions in the future to the moon or elsewhere.
The Nasa administrator, Jim Bridenstine, wrote that the agency “is buying lunar soil from a commercial provider. It’s time to establish the regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources.”