Space exploration: Gather Moon rocks for us, NASA urges private companies

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NASA on Thursday announced it was in the market for Moon rocks, and wants to pay companies to scoop out the dirt, take a photo, and then have it ready for collection by a future mission.The contract doesn’t actually involve getting to the Moon itself — a feat only achieved by the national space agencies of three countries — but instead envisages companies designing a robot that NASA or major private sector players can then launch.”NASA is buying lunar soil from a commercial provider! It’s time to establish the regulatory certainty to extract and trade space resources,” tweeted administrator Jim Bridenstine.The US wants to become a leader in the exploitation of resources found in the soil or subsoil of asteroids and the Moon, a policy outlined in an executive order by President Donald Trump last year, despite an absence of international or legal consensus on the best way to manage extraterrestrial mining.The major space treaties are vague on the question.For the current tender, it has asked companies from around the world to present proposals to collect 50 to 500 grams of Moon rock, or regolith, from anywhere on the surface, provide imagery to prove it, then transfer …

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