In Brief
  • NASA has released a Request for Information that likely points to an interest in getting private companies involved in mining the moon.
  • Any partnerships would likely marry scientific inquiry with economic opportunity.

NASA is looking to get deeply involved in the moon in the coming decades. The space agency has recently delivered a request for information to private agencies seeking to collaborate in future missions to the moon. In the request, NASA writes,  “NASA has identified a variety of exploration, science, and technology demonstration objectives that could be addressed by sending instruments, experiments, or other payloads to the lunar surface. To address these objectives as cost-effectively as possible, NASA may procure payloads and related commercial payload delivery services to the Moon.”

Image credit: ESA
Image Credit: ESA

The letter signals an increased interest in both the commercial and scientific research opportunities that the moon provides. As Inverse explains, the moon “could be a haven of valuable resources, like iron and platinum.” Experts believe that even with existing tech, space mining is possible. Some experts have even estimated that if NASA were to divert 3 – 12 percent of their budget to mining efforts, it could become a reality.

The ESA has previously announced plans to build a station on the moon. The ability to mine resources from the moon itself could minimize cost as minimal materials would have to be launched from Earth and the rest could be 3D printed.