National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it is looking for private companies from around the world that can collect dirt and rock from the Moon's surface. According to reports, the US space agency has said that it aims to complete the retrieval and transfer of ownership of the resources before 2024.
NASA has set the goal of landing the first American woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.
"The solicitation created a full and open competition, not limited to US companies and the agency may make one or more awards," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
According to NASA, a company will collect a small amount of Moon "dirt" or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to the agency of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location.
The companies will have to conduct an "in-place" transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA. After ownership transfer, the collected material will become the sole property of NASA for its use, as per Business Insider's report.
"NASA's payment is exclusively for the lunar regolith, with any awardee receiving 10 percent at an award, 10 per cent upon launch, and the remaining 80 per cent upon successful completion," Bridenstine said, adding that the agency will determine retrieval methods for the transferred lunar regolith at a later date.
As per The Verge's report, the space agency is ready to pay between $15,000 and $25,000 for the resources. According to the report, the amount appears to be quite meager considering the cost required to send a spacecraft to the moon, but the idea here is to start the process of creating a lunar marketplace.
The industry group Commercial Spaceflight Federation has welcomed NASA's decision.