NASA announced Thursday that it is seeking a private space company to collect moon rocks before the space agency launches a manned rocket to the moon in 2024.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote that the agency has posted the requirements for the job, which entail launching a rocket, collecting samples, and getting them back to Earth. NASA would take ownership of the samples.
The company that is chosen would receive 10% of the money when awarded the contract, 10% when the rocket launches, and the rest when the mission is completed.
“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 wrote, referencing the name of NASA’s project to put Americans back on the moon.
“The president’s Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources clarifies Congress’ intent clarifies that it is the policy of the United States to encourage international support for the public and private recovery and use of resources in outer space, consistent with applicable law. We know a supportive policy regarding the recovery and use of space resources is important to the creation of a stable and predictable investment environment for commercial space innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Bridenstine added that the proposal stipulates that a commercial space company “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. After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use.
“NASA’s goal is that the retrieval and transfer of ownership will be completed before 2024.”
NASA will consider non-U.S. companies for the project.
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