American space agency NASA is redefining the concept of space exploration. It has always been in the forefront of such activities. It sent the first man to the moon and set up the International Space Station. The agency now wants to become a launchpad for mining on the Moon, which is rich in minerals. NASA wants to involve private companies in robotic mining operations on the alien surface.

Obviously, a combination of robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Renewable Energy would be vital. It would be a business venture for NASA to kickstart lunar mining operations.

The space agency has indicated probable compensation rates. Procuring lunar rocks by others and transferring the ownership to NASA would mean the commencement of space commerce on the Moon. This initiative would be the initial step to establish principles of carrying out business related to mining in a new environment. NASA plans to send humans back to the Moon in 2024 and it wants to retrieve the rocks and transfer their ownership before that date.

Daily Mail UK says the private parties would be able to collect Moon “dirt” or rocks from any portion of the lunar surface.

They need not bring them back to Earth but would have to identify the location and provide proof of the collection through imagery. NASA has defined the size of the samples and said it would arrange their retrieval.

NASA will not violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine clarified that the plans of the space agency will not violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The treaty says celestial bodies and space do not come under the scope of national claims of ownership. In a blog post, he explained that the policy is to open up another era of exploration and discovery for the benefit of humanity. Daily Mail UK quotes him as saying, “Leveraging commercial involvement as part of Artemis will enhance our ability to safely return to the Moon in a sustainable, innovative, and affordable fashion.”

Polar ice could also be in the list of NASA

In the course of interaction at an event hosted by the Secure World Foundation, Jim Bridenstine said the purpose of the exercise is to buy lunar soil in order to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting such business.

NASA could turn its attention to other natural resources on the moon like ice. This is present in its polar region and could be a source of drinking water and even irrigation systems on the Moon.

Daily Mail UK adds that the water, when broken into its molecules, could be used as fuel for the onward journey to Mars. This is already in the tentative plans of the agency for the 2030s and will happen after NASA returns humans to the Moon in 2024. Subsequently, astronauts will go to the Moon on a regular basis to establish lunar exploration by 2028. Next, comes the crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s. Incidentally, in April 2019, China positioned its robot on the far side of the moon ahead of America or Russia.

It is also interested in the natural resources on the Moon.

Project moon rocks of NASA a revolutionary concept

According to The Verge, NASA has raised the bar of space research. It announced that it would buy moon rocks from any company that can acquire them. NASA stipulated a target of 2024 for completion and the agency would arrange to bring them back to Earth. This would be a step to create a lunar marketplace to buy materials from alien soils. Purchases of this nature would be a pioneering effort to set the pace for the future. NASA already has a collection of moon rocks from past expeditions. In May, NASA formulated the Artemis Accords. It was a set of standardized guidelines for countries about how to explore the Moon and utilize its resources.

The American space agency is charting a new path and is encouraging private companies to come on board and be partners in missions to the Moon and Mars. SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk is one of these companies.