While the Chinese Chang’e-5 probe took off from the Moon after collecting rock samples and is about to return to Earth with its precious cargo, the only probe to do so since 1976, NASA has signed a contract for the collection of samples in robotic missions to be carried out in 2022-2023 for the astronomical sum of … 1 dollar. To be paid in three installments: 10% per contract, 10% at launch and the remaining 80% after collection. In reality it is a political-economic move for the rights to extraterrestrial resources, on which the United States is aiming to finance future space missions by private companies, a project that sees strong opposition from Russia and China.
The American space agency has signed four contracts with different companies: with Lunar Outpost for 1 dollar, with ispace Japan and ispace Europe for 5 thousand dollars each, and with Masten Space Systems for 15 thousand dollars. So with a total of $ 25,001, he solved the problem of collecting lunar samples. The idea that guided NASA, however, is not the economic one, but the signing of contracts to create a legal precedent for the exploitation of resources outside the Earth by private companies. “It is important to set a precedent that the private sector can extract and take of resources,” explained Mike Gold, NASA head of international relations. There is no international consensus on property rights and the 1967 Space Treaty is vague on this point.
The four companies will send their own robotic probes that will collect the samples, weighing between a few tens to a hundred grams, photograph them and carry out a “transfer of ownership” in favor of NASA on the spot. The missions have already been funded by companies linked to the space agency. The samples are not currently expected to return to Earth. In 2022 ispace Japan will collect samples at Lacus Somniorum (Lake of dreams); ispace Europa which is based in Luxembourg, the Californian Masten Space Systems and Lunar Outpost, which is based in Colorado, all in 2023 at the South Pole.
December 4, 2020 (change December 4, 2020 | 09:37)