“As we at NASA are working aggressively to meet our near-term goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, our Artemis program is also focused on taking steps that are safe. And will establish permanent lunar exploration architecture. ” Bridenstine explained. “Today, we are taking important steps by issuing a solicitation to provide proposals for the collection of space resources to commercial companies.”
The technology desired by NASA seems pretty straightforward: go to the moon and dig up some rocks and / or surface regoliths, send a picture to prove that you have sent the ownership of the rocks back to NASA. The digging company does not even need to bring the sample back to Earth – NASA will take care of it as well. The only hitch seems to be the timeline, meaning this feat is to be completed before Artemis’ 2024 launch year. Perhaps the space agency will plan to take its lunar assets using astronauts? Given that the specimen can also be collected from anywhere on the moon, it is rather limited as to how far the Earth will arrive, however, probably not.
The prize money was not specified, but some details about disbursement are provided. NASA will provide 10% of the total purchase amount when the contract is awarded, 10% after mission launch and the remaining 80% after collection is complete.
“The requirements that we have outlined is that a company will collect a small amount of the moon” dirt “or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, providing the image with NASA of the collection and the material collected, Identifies the collection. “In-place” transfer of location, location and ownership of lunar regoliths or rocks to NASA, “Bryndine detailed. “After ownership transfer, the material collected becomes the sole property of NASA for our use … NASA’s goal is that the acquisition and transfer of ownership will be completed before 2024.”
This is a bit of an unusual challenge at first glance – just digging and can be done. However, NASA plans to bring back samples that its 2020 Mars Fortitude Rover (currently on its way to the Red Planet) will be excavated soon. Techniques for the Moon samples and Mars samples will almost certainly overlap, hence the investment in lunar sampling missions.
NASA has also asked commercial partners to help shuttle payloads to the moon in a resolution published a few days before this latest sampling mission. Overall, it seems that things may be very good for humans leaving Earth orbit after nearly 50 years of deadlock.