HOUSTON – NASA wants to buy moon rocks, but it’s mainly aimed at encouraging commercial companies to develop space exploration technology.
According to the request for bids, the space agency will pay for between 50 and 500 grams of lunar regolith material from a contractor. That’s up to a pound of rock. The contractor must also provide imagery that identifies the material and information about where it was collected on the lunar surface.
“The requirements we’ve outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon “dirt” or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an “in-place” transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA,” Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA, wrote in a blog post about the listing.
Once purchased, the material becomes the sole property of NASA, according to the bid.
The goal is for the material to be retrieved and transferred to NASA before 2024, which is when the agency aims to land the next humans on the moon.
Bridenstine said whichever company gets the contract will receive 10% upon the awarding of the contract, 10% when the mission is launched and 80% when the mission is successfully completed.