In what can be considered a giant leap towards mining minerals from the moon, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has begun accepting applications from potential business partners.
The move, part of a plan unveiled in January, aims to find private financing to help its experts design and build lunar prospecting robots, the first major step required to explore Earth’s natural satellite for valuable resources.
Unlike some loaded business figures who have set up their own space mining endeavours, NASA only counts on a budget set by the U.S. government, which has refused to provide any further funding for the so-called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative.
In a teleconference late last month, Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s advanced exploration systems, said business partners could support commercial activities on the moon while enabling new science and exploration missions of interest to NASA and the larger scientific and academic communities.
Experts claim space mining is a necessity as many metals that underpin our modern economy are quickly being depleted. Without any new technological advances, metals like zinc and gold are expected to run out in 100 years, they claim.
But the road ahead doesn’t look easy. In fact, a study from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics published last month highlights just how problematic this space mining/travelling business could be.