Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
NASA announced Thursday it plans to purchase lunar soil from a commercial company, an effort the agency’s top official said will set a precedent for the transfer of ownership of extraterrestrial material to stimulate a market harvesting resources from bodies throughout the solar system.
The initiative is starting small, but NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday it could lead to companies being able to mine lunar soil for water ice, precious metals, and other resources.
“We’re interested in buying some lunar soil commercially,” Bridenstine said Thursday in a virtual presentation at the Secure World Foundation’s Space Sustainability Summit. “So we want a commercial company to go to the moon, extract some lunar soil, and then … NASA can take possession of it.”
“We are buying the regolith, but we’re doing it really to demonstrate that it can be done, that the resources extracted from the moon are in fact owned by the people who invest their sweat, and their treasure, and their equity into that effort,” Bridenstine said.
NASA’s effort to purchase lunar soil from a commercial company has its roots in a law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015, Bridenstine said. The ...