On the moon, NASA plans to extract useful resources, in particular, oxygen and water. In the future, iron and rare earth elements will also be mined on the satellite of our planet.
According to Reuters, NASA plans to return American astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis mission by 2025. To attract commercial investment, the space agency plans to quantify potential resources such as energy, water and lunar soil. This was told by Gerald Sanders, a rocket scientist at the NASA Space Center in Johnston.
“We are committed to investing in the Exploration and Evaluation Phase to mitigate risks and create conditions for attracting outside investment in exploration and production,” said Gerald Sanders at the Mining Conference in Brisbane.
NASA plans to send a test rig to the moon and begin large-scale excavations of lunar soil known as regolith. In addition, a pilot processing plant is planned to be launched in 2032.
It is expected that the first customers will be commercial rocket companies that will be able to use the resources of the moon. As part of the cooperation between the Australian space agency and NASA, a semi-autonomous rover is being developed, which will collect regolith samples as early as 2026.
It is known that lunar soil contains a significant amount of oxides, which, when heated, can release oxygen and related metals. The rover will collect lunar soil, and special equipment delivered to the Moon with the rover will allow NASA to remotely extract oxygen from the regolith.
“This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon and supporting future missions to Mars,” said Gerald Sanders.