NASA is taking space exploration to a new level by supporting private companies to collect moon dirt which can be sold for as high as $25,000 for each sample cache. This initiative adds to the already booked robotic rides to the lunar surface on commercial landers and plans to do the same with crewed missions, encouraging further private exploration of the moon.
The idea is to have private companies from the United States and abroad to collect from 1.8 ounces to 18 ounces (50 to 500 grams) of lunar material by 2024 and officially transfer ownership of the soil to the space agency on the lunar surface.
The goal of the initiative is to stimulate and normalize the extraction and sale of lunar resources, and eventually sell them to non-NASA buyers across the borders. Another goal for the use of lunar resources is to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon, preparing the agency for crewed trips to Mars in the 2030s and perform similar activities there.
There are, of course, regulations that need to be established before starting to trade space resources. NASA requires that all actions be taken in a transparent fashion, in full compliance with the Registration Convention, Article II and other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty that fuels a new era of exploration and discovery that will benefit all of humanity. Who knows, perhaps in the near future we will see a new market evolve here on earth that includes the trading of lunar rocks to showcase at home!
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