By 2024, NASA, with the help of the Artemis program, has planned to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon. Before the execution of this project starts, NASA wants to send a mission to the moon that will collect the soil of the moon.
Although it is not new for NASA to plan such missions, the extraordinariness, of NASA sending a mission to the moon to collect soil this time, lies in the fact that NASA has refrained from developing the soil detector itself. Instead, NASA has decided to pay a private company to develop the detector.
On Thursday, it was officially announced by NASA when administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted, “NASA is buying lunar soil from a commercial provider! It’s time to establish the regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources,”
NASA has asked companies around the world to participate in submitting a proposal to collect 50 to 500 grams of regolith or moon rock from around the surface. As soon as NASA declared an event of accepting proposals from different, non-US based space companies, proposals have started pouring in from multiple organizations.
The company that will have the opportunity of getting selected by NASA will be assigned the task of providing the moon sample along with the images of the collection procedure. The soil collected from the moon, the images clarifying the process of collecting them will eventually be taken over by NASA and will be declared as a property of NASA.
The companies would have to set bids of their own. 20% upfront will be paid initially and the remainder will be paid after completing the mission successfully. The contracts, anticipate NASA, will be of around ten thousand dollars. NASA is looking forward to expanding its reach to Mars after succeeding in returning humans to the moon. The resource that NASA will get will pave the way for future missions to Mars.