NASA is soliciting help from commercial companies to get moon samples

  • NASA is soliciting help from commercial companies to get moon samples

NASA is soliciting help from commercial companies to get moon samples

NASA has a dozen other projects in the works that will help it prepare for a 2024 Moon mission. The company is also expected to the materials to the space agency that will be installed on the lunar surface.

"The bottom line is, we're gonna buy some lunar soil for the objective of demonstrating that it can be done", Bridenstine said during the Secure World Foundation's Summit for Space Sustainability online presentation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the new initiative in a blogpost Thursday, writing that "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 explained that companies will get 10% of the fee upon signing a contract and 10% once their spacecraft was launched. However, the remaining fund will only be given at the time when the sample will be given to the agency.

NASA said the collected material will then become its "sole property", with the agency planning to retrieve the material "at a later date". But before that comes, the agency needs help from other companies.

It's worth noting that this is separate from NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which offers contracts for transporting experiments to the lunar surface aboard landers - but you can bet some of those startups and companies will be vying for the chance to use said landers and robotic rovers in development to pick up some Moon dirt for NASA. This program will also be significant in preparation for crewed trips to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA in May set the stage for a global debate over the basic principles governing how people will live and work on the moon, releasing the main tenets of what it hopes will become an worldwide pact for moon exploration called the Artemis Accords. Now, the space agency aims to have the same deals for dirt collection.

Companies would set their own bids, and be paid 20 percent up front with the remainder upon successful completion of their mission.

NASA's goal is that the retrieval and transfer of ownership will be completed before 2024. 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. The NASA chief added that a supportive policy is vital in building a "stable and predictable investment environment" for private space entrepreneurs and visionaries.