NASA to Pay Company $1 to Collect 'Moon Soil'

Lunar Outpost is one of the three companies selected as a winning bidder.

NASA will pay a company just $1 to collect dirt from the moon. The company, a start-up named Lunar Outpost, bid $1 and won a contract with NASA as part of the agency’s low-cost lunar resource collection program. NASA plans to pay companies to collect “moon soil,” between 50 grams and 500 grams, and they just have to tell NASA where to find the the material on the moon’s surface, officials said.

Lunar Outpost is one of the three companies selected as a winning bidder. The other two other companies were Masten Space Systems, which proposed a $15,000 mission in 2023, and Ispace, which offered a pair of $5,000 missions in 2022 and 2023. The agency had received 22 mission proposals from at least 16 companies.

“The companies will collect the samples and then provide us with visual evidence and other data that they’ve collected, and then ownership will transfer and we will then collect those samples,” NASA acting associate administrator Mike Gold said at a press conference. “The objective [of these collection missions] is twofold: There is important policy and precedent that’s being set, both relative to the utilization of space resources, and the expansion of the public and private partnerships  beyond Earth orbit to the moon.”

The contracts for the three companies will be paid out in three stages, starting with 10% when their bid is selected. So, Lunar Outpost’s first check will be for 10 cents.

The company had already been planning to collect lunar material, so their bid to NASA was just an extension of that, McAlister said.