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NASA chose 4 private companies to collect samples from the moon

Four companies will collect lunar surface samples for NASA by 2023, in preparation for an astronaut mission to Earth's natural satellite in 2024, UPI reported, citing a U.S. space agency announcement.
For the first time, private companies will collect samples from a space body.

The selected companies are Lunar Outpost from Denver, USA, Ispace Japan from Tokyo, Japan, Luxembourg-based Ispace World and Maston Space Systems from Mojave, California, USA. They all have already planned missions to the moon.

The goal is to show how private companies collect samples and test the legal framework for transmitting ownership of samples taken to the moon, said Phil McAllister, director of commercial space flight development at NASA, BTA reported.

"It is yet to be determined how we will collect this material. At this stage, we have no plans on how we will physically acquire it, "he explained.

NASA's goal is basically to set a precedent for sample collection under the International Space Treaty, which allows countries around the world to extract resources from space objects without claiming ownership of the territories, said Mike Gold, international relations director at NASA. According to him, it is extremely important to resolve legal and regulatory issues in advance so as not to impede innovation and development in space exploration.

"Lunar Outpost”, founded in 2017, works on technologies for long-term human presence on the moon. She will use for her flight to the moon the Blue Moon Company's Blue Origin cargo spacecraft of Jeff Bezos. Lunar Outpost is also working on other NASA projects and has offered to participate in sample collection for just one dollar.

The contracts with Ispace Japan and its European affiliate Ispace Europe are for $5000 each. Companies will use Japan's Hakuto spacecraft are the lunar mission.

"Fatten” will fly to the moon with its own “Fatty Exel-1" apparatus, which is part of NASA's commercial lunar supply program, with a $15,000 contract.

The task of the four companies is to collect a small amount of regolite from the lunar surface - from 50 grams to half a kilogram. They should show NASA photos of the collected material along with information exactly where it was from. The company will then hand over ownership of the samples to the US space agency under a contract.

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