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Moon Mining? Companies Eye Moon, Asteroids for Precious Space Soil

May 15, 2017 09:53 AM EDT
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The moon may just be a big pile of rocks and dust, but there are plenty of people who see incredible value in that.

According to a report from Seeker, Florida-based Moon Express are planning the first-ever private mining operation on the moon in 2020. The company will send a landing craft to the moon to retrieve a scop of lunar dirt and rocks, and bring it back to Earth.

What will Moon Express do with a handful or so of space soil? Sell it, of course.

"It will instantly become the most valuable and scarcest material on Earth," Bob Richards, the CEO of Moon Express, pointed out. "We'll make some of it available to scientific research. But we also plan to commoditize it ourselves."

It's not just Moon Express who is eyeing heavenly bodies for their next business venture. There are entrepreneural start-ups already planning their own mining operations on the moon and asteroids. After all, with the dwindling resources on Earth, it might be time to look elsewhere for the next million -- or more.

There are a few potential minerals to be mined on the moon and asteroids such as plenty of a futuristic fuel source called helium-3, platinum and other precious minerals and more.

One particular commodity in space is interesting because of how common it is on Earth: water. Water, whether to sustain life or to make alternative fuel for rockets, could make the expansion to space more smoothly.

"Water is like the oil of the solar system," Richards said. "The moon could become a gas station in the sky."

NASA is also aware of the great wealth potentially waiting on Earth's neighboring rocks. According to a report from Inverse, the agency has issued a "request for information" to the private industry that referred to a possible mission to get lunar samples to bring them back to Earth.

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