NASA has solicited the help of businesses to assist them in gathering regolith or lunar rocks from the Moon’s surface. The agency released this in a statement on Sept. 10, 2020.
Lunar Rock Collecting
They are hoping to find companies willing to travel to the Moon to gather around 50 to 500 grams of the lunar rocks. NASA says that once the company has provided evidence of the samples, they will take over ownership of said samples.
After NASA has taken over ownership of the sample’s they will pay the companies for them. NASA has said that after the companies have provided their proof of their samples; they would not have to return the lunar rocks to Earth. Instead, NASA would retrieve the samples on a future mission.
This information was stated by NASA’s Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the Secure World Foundation’s Summit for Space Sustainability.
Bridenstine claims that the agency aims to adapt a market for mining the soil on the Moon. Thus creating a way to “enable a normalization process” in which extraterrestrial
Artemis Accord Program and CLPS
Bridenstine refused to give an exact amount of money that NASA would be willing to pay for these samples. However, he did mention that the company would be willing to pay $15,000 to $25,000.
Bridenstine said that the agency was “trying to… make sure that there is a norm of behavior that says that resources can be extracted.” He further stated that they were “doing it in a way that is in compliance with the Outer Space Treaty.” The plan is to intertwine these efforts with the Artemis Accords Program that the agency is planning.
Artemis Accords is a plan to land the next man and first woman on the Moon by 2024. The program is hoping to achieve a sustainable and strong presence on the Moon. While they prepare for this the agency is preparing to perform a historic mission to Mars.
According to the agency’s website, they have “selected three commercial Moon landing service providers,” who “will deliver science and technology payloads” in their Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).
Hope for the Future
Their hope is to change the way that astronauts land on the Moon with advanced technology by 2024. Some of the companies included in the CLPS program are Ceres Robotics, SpaceX, and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.
As part of the program, each company will be in charge of getting certain scientific instruments to the surface of the Moon. The agency is hoping the equipment these companies bring to the Moon will help them establish new data.
The “potential payloads” these companies bring to the Moon with help the agency measure the lunar radiation environment. It will also assess how the lander and astronaut’s activities affect the Moon. The instruments will also help them pinpoint the lander position, as well as helping with navigation precision.
The Artemis Program is made up of two-phases. The first part is to focus on the 2024 Moon Landing. The second part is focused on establishing a sustained human presence around and on the Moon by 2028.
NASA is hoping to use all the information they gather to help them send astronauts to Mars.
Written by Sheena Robertson
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