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NASA invites companies to collect Moon “dirt” or rocks and sell it to the U.S. space agency

Photo: NASA

Washington, DC, 10 September 2020. – NASA invites commercial companies to collect small amounts of Moon “dirt” or rocks and hand it out to the U.S. space agency, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Thursday in a blog.

“The requirements we’ve outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon ‘dirt’ or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an ‘in-place’ transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA,” Bridenstine said. “After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use,” he said. “NASA’s goal is that the retrieval and transfer of ownership will be completed before 2024.”

The solicitation creates a full and open competition, not limited to U.S. companies, and the agency may make one or more awards, Bridenstine said.  NASA would pay up to $50,000 for the Moon material, an agency official said on a panel of the Secure World Foundation’s Summit for Space Sustainability on Thursday.

“As we at NASA are working aggressively to meet our near-term goal of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, our Artemis program also is focused on taking steps that will establish a safe and sustainable lunar exploration architecture. Moreover, leveraging commercial involvement as part of Artemis will enhance our ability to safely return to the Moon in a sustainable, innovative, and affordable fashion,” Bridenstine explained in his blog.

“Over the next decade, the Artemis program will lay the foundation for a sustained long-term presence on the lunar surface and use the Moon to validate deep space systems and operations before embarking on the much farther voyage to Mars,” he said. “The ability to conduct in-situ resources utilization (ISRU) will be incredibly important on Mars, which is why we must proceed with alacrity to develop techniques and gain experience with ISRU on the surface of the Moon. The scientific discoveries gained through robust, sustainable, and safe lunar exploration will benefit all of humanity. By continuing to publicly release our data, NASA will ensure the whole world joins us and benefits from the Artemis journey.”

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