NASA Plans to Trial Mining on the Moon by 2032

by | 28. Jun 2023 - 13:32 | Economy

In the coming years, the goal is to explore resources such as water, oxygen, and raw materials.

Space mining is seen as a promising answer to the growing resource problem on Earth. This is because terrestrial deposits of critical minerals such as rare earths or platinum, considered essential for digital and green technologies, are limited and often concentrated in a few countries. According to a NASA scientist, mining on the moon could be tested as early as within the next decade, Reuters reports.

As part of its Artemis mission, the U.S. space agency plans to send humans to the moon starting in 2024 – including exploring resources on Earth’s satellite, initially oxygen and water, and later possibly iron and rare earths. Steps have already been taken to excavate lunar soil in 2032, and a pilot processing plant is also planned, Reuters quotes Gerald Sanders of NASA’s Johnston Space Centre. According to Sanders, tapping access to resources on the moon is “key to reducing costs and developing a circular economy.” As a next step, he says, NASA plans to send a test drilling rig to the moon later this month.

Lunar Mission to Facilitate Investments

The Artemis mission is also intended to attract investment, Sanders said. He sees commercial rocket companies, which could use the moon’s resources for fuel or oxygen, as the first customers. In addition to government space agencies, corporations such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have long since discovered space travel for themselves. In addition, startups are getting in on the act, such as California-based AstroForge, which plans to conduct the first commercial resource mining on an asteroid. The consulting firm Deloitte recently pointed out the growing importance of space travel for future business strategies and called on companies to take advantage of opportunities in areas such as space mining, but also satellite communications or space tourism.

Photo: iStock/abriendomundo

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