Nasa is going to pay a company $1 to collect moon rocks after it was accepted as a winning bidder.

On Thursday Lunar Outpost was accorded a contract to gather samples for NASA. It is one of four contracts accorded by NASA under its low-cost lunar resource gathering programme. Other winning bidders were California-based Masten Space Systems and Tokyo-based ispace, besides its European subsidiary.

NASA will be paying the companies for individual gatherings of lunar regolith, or moon soil, between 50g and 500g in weight. The companies will gather the samples and then give us visual evidence and other data that they've collected, a spokesman for NASA said.

The plan is for the mission to go down in 2023, but we are working with several lander companies, which could result in an earlier launch date, Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus. 

Colorado-based Lunar Outpost, a robotics firm, will be awarded $1 for gathering moon rocks from the lunar South Pole. But the $1 is not the stimulus for these companies. There are envisaged to be many scientific advantages to the mission such as letting firms to practice uprooting resources from the lunar surface.

Mr. Cyrus called it an ideal shift in the way society thinks about space observations. The company is in talks with Blue Origin and several other companies that are working to hover to the moon. Blue Origin is a space observations firm set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Among the other winning bids, Japan's ispace will be given $5,000 for its intended collection in 2022 on the Moon's north-eastern near side.

Not About The Money

The emblematic amount of even a dollar is a crucial paradigm that NASA is setting, said Sinead O'Sullivan, an space expert. The novelty here is not of financial merit but of creating business and legal norms of creating a market of buyers and sellers outside of Earth's limitations, she added.

The awards for the three companies will be given in three steps. 10% of the funds at the time of the accord, 10% when the company will launch its collection spacecraft, and 80% when NASA confirms the company gathered material. The $1 will come in three wee but important portions of $0.10, $0.10, and $0.80, joked Mr. Cyrus.

The space agency's statement on Thursday comes as China carries out its own lunar sample collection mission. The Chinese Chang'e-5 lunar spacecraft is presently on its way back to Earth with samples from the moon.

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