Various companies are making plans to mine and sell lunar resources, such as rocks and water ice. Now the race begins to agree on a legal framework that is fair to all.
September 13, 2022
BILL NELSON, the NASA administrator, smiled for the cameras as he handed a check to Justin Cyrus, the head of a company called lunar outpost. The amount? Just 10 cents. This moment last year was partly a marketing stunt. But in its own weird way, it was also a legitimately important milestone: It marked the first time that a government agency, or anyone else, had signed an agreement to buy natural resources in space.
If all goes according to plan, later this year Lunar Outpost will use a rover to collect some lunar dust, take a picture of it, and officially transfer ownership of the material to NASA. In exchange, the agency will pay an additional fee, this time 90 cents to make a round dollar.
The sums may be small, but this is the beginning of a new era for humanity, one in which the buying and selling of resources will extend beyond our home planet for the first time. And while Lunar Outpost appears to be one of the first companies to make money on the moon, others will soon follow. US plans to return people to the lunar surface rely heavily on partnerships with companies.
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