NASA to buy dirt, rocks mined from the Moon

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Moon Surface Image
Representational Image

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has initiated a plan to pay firms to mine resources on the moon, declaring that they will purchase rocks, dirt and other lunar materials from them.

The US Space Agency aims to promote the private mining of valuable off-world resources for their use with this initiative.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a blog post following the announcement that the proposal would not violate the 1967 Treaty, which states that celestial bodies and space are excluded from national ownership claims.

The initiative, aimed at companies that plan to send robots to mine lunar resources, is part of NASA’s goal of establishing what Bridenstine called “norms of behavior” in space and allowing private mining on the moon to take place in ways that could help sustain future astronaut missions.

NASA stated that it considers the mined resources to be the property of the company and that the materials would become “NASA’s sole property” after purchase.

Artemis Accord

NASA published the “Artemis Accords” in May this year. It is a series of principles and processes by which America and other countries will adhere to a shared set of principles about how to explore the Moon and use its resources.

This would allow companies to own the lunar resources they mine, a key element in enabling NASA contractors to turn the moon’s water ice to rocket fuel or mine lunar minerals to develop landing pads.

Under NASA’s Artemis program, President Donald Trump’s administration is planning the return of American astronauts to the moon by 2024. The latest move by NASA is a step towards its future plan for the first human journey to Mars.

Bridenstine said that NASA would eventually purchase more types of resources, such as ice and other materials that could be discovered on the moon.

Under the plan, NASA also offered to purchase limited amounts of lunar resources and invited companies to make proposals.

The contract states that a Moon mining business can gather lunar rocks or dirt to sell to NASA without having to bring the resources back to Earth.