NASA will pay $ 1 to a company to collect moon rocks

Photo of the Moon taken into orbit by Space Isle’s Persheet spacecraft.

SpaceIL

A company on behalf of the agency will pay NASA a surprisingly low price – a dollar – to build a small collection of moon debris.

NASA wins Colorado-based start-up lunar eclipse bid $ 1 and completes mission under agency Low cost lunar resource collection project Announced earlier this year.

NASA wants companies to pay for individual collections of lunar regolith or lunar soil ranging from 50 grams to 500 grams. The agency openly outlined that companies should only collect material and tell NASA where it can be found on the lunar surface – not to build the spacecraft or return the regolith to Earth.

Lunar Outpost was one of three companies selected by NASA Thursday as the winning bidder. The other two winners are California-based Maston Space Systems, which is proposing a $ 15,000 mission in 2023, and Tokyo-based iSpace, which is proposing a couple of $ 5,000 trips in 2022 and 2023.

“Companies collect samples and then they provide us with the visual evidence and other data they collect, and then the ownership is transferred, and then we collect those samples,” Mike Gold, NASA’s Acting Co – Executive, told reporters at a news conference. “Purpose [of these collection missions] Twice: An important policy and precedent has been set for the use of space resources and the expansion of public-private partnerships for the Moon beyond Earth’s orbit. “

The agency each bid $ 15,000 to $ 25,000, with a maximum limit of 000, 250,000. Awards for the three companies will be paid in three stages: 10% funding at the time of award presentation, 10% when the company launches their collection spacecraft, and 80% when NASA verifies the collection of items.

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“Is NASA going to reduce a check to 10 cents? [to Lunar Outpost]? The answer is yes, ”said Bill McAllister, NASA’s Director of Commercial Space.

McAllister explained that the lunar outpost was able to bid $ 1 because the company had already planned to collect lunar objects, so splitting some regolith for NASA was “really trivial”.

According to NASA, the lunar eclipse will fly on a mission Jeff Bezos’ The blue appearance of the moon’s south pole in 2023, Blue Origin told CNBC it was wrong. Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus clarified to CNBC that his company is in talks with Blue Origin and several other companies working to fly to the moon.

“We are compatible with a wide variety of landlords … [but] We did not make a final decision on any of these landlords, “said Cyrus. Blue Origin creates the hell of a space vehicle, no doubt about it, but we are not obligated on a contract basis to use any particular lander. “

The agency received 22 work projects from at least 16 companies, some of which bid several times. Although NASA declined to specify which companies submitted the non-selected projects, McAllister explained that some went beyond the agency’s cost or selection criteria.

NASA’s announcement follows President Donald Trump Executive order earlier this year The United States will seek further international support for its policy This allows private companies to collect and use resources in space. It reaffirms the decision made by Congress in 2015 on the basis of Trump’s executive order, granting American individuals and corporations the “right to engage in business exploration, recovery and the use of resources in space.”

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In addition, the announcement comes on Thursday China runs its own lunar sample collection mission. The Chinese Chang 5 lunar spacecraft is currently on its way back to Earth with samples from the moon launched on November 24. This is the first lunar product of any country since 1976.

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Veronica Tucker

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