NASA wants to buy moon “dirt,” or rocks, from private companies, it said Thursday. The companies can collect the rock from any location on the lunar surface with data that identifies the location and send images to space agency, so they don’t have to bring it back to Earth. The company will then transfer ownership to NASA, who’ll pick it up.
The goal is to have the retrieval and transfer of ownership completed before 2024, NASA boss Jim Bridenstine noted in the blog post.
“Next-generation lunar science and technology is a main objective for returning to the Moon and preparing for Mars,” he wrote. “Over the next decade, the Artemis program will lay the foundation for a sustained long-term presence on the lunar surface and use the Moon to validate deep space systems and operations before embarking on the much farther voyage to Mars.”