The Motley Fool’s newsletter explored some more ways that #moon Express could make money, besides delivering the ashes of the deceased to the lunar surface, a business that the company has already signed onto with Celestis, which has already shot cremated remains into #Space. The investment company ran some numbers for the idea of selling moon rocks as jewelry. Another business would be to land low-cost science payloads to the lunar surface.

Criminals have already attempted to sell moon rocks, real or fake, on the black market. The figures range from $50,800 per gram in a 2002 case involving a gang of students working at NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center to $5 million for a 1.4-gram sample stolen from the Museum of Natural History on Malta.

If we assume that Moon Express could return a kilogram of moon rock from the lunar surface, it would be valued anywhere between $50 million to $3.6 billion. The cost of moon rocks sold openly and legally would depend on demand, with a market ranging from high-end collectors to purveyors of expensive jewelry.

The other short to medium term business that Moon Express could exploit is delivering payloads to the moon for other enterprises. Possibilities include a lunar mapping project for the University of Maryland, a lunar based telescope for the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), and, what would be in effect, a lunar surface webcam for Google. If NASA or some other entity decides to focus on a return to the moon, Moon Express would be positioned to garner some of that business as well, delivering robots, rovers, 3D printers and other payloads that would pave the way for astronauts.

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The ultimate goal for Moon Express is to mine the moon for precious materials, platinum group metals, helium-3 that could be used to fuel future fusion reactors, and water, that could be used to support lunar settlements and be refined into rocket fuel. The latter application would turn the moon into a refueling stop for spacecraft headed to deep space destinations such as Mars and the moons of the outer planets.

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