Private companies have started to file applications to be able to mine on the moon. NASA is now working with private companies to take the first steps in exploring the moon for valuable resources like helium 3 and rare earth metals.
The first proposals will be heard this week, for a program dubbed Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). One or more private companies will try to win a contract to build special robots ““ the first step to mining the moon, according to NASA.
This is of course not the first time NASA will work with private companies. Its budget has been severely cut by the American federal government, so they had to make due to still try and push the envelope in technology and science. They have used private companies to deliver and maintain parts on the International Space Station.
A question that I had from the get-go was: why would NASA have the rights to do with the moon as they please? Apparently I‘m not the only one, and the possibility of lunar mining and the emergence of private space companies triggered a debate over lunar property rights.
“There‘s a strong case for developing international law in this area because in 1967 it was not envisaged that anyone other than nation states would be able to explore the moon,” Ian Crawford, a planetary science professor, told The Telegraph. “Clearly that is changing now and there is a case for developing the outer space treaty to include private organizations that may wish to explore the moon.”
What do you think? Should we exploit the moon for natural resources?