Washington, December 4: NASA has awarded a contract to Colorado-based Lunar Outpost and three other firms to collect lunar rocks after the landing of a lander to the moon's south pole in 2023. NASA will pay $1 to the Lunar Outpost for collecting rocks to retrieve lunar regolith. Lunar Outpost said that the contract is symbolic of its new incentive and will "exponentially increase the potential of future missions." Water Found on Moon! NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Lunar Surface for The First Time.

The other three companies are - California-based Masten Space Systems and Tokyo-based ispace, and its European subsidiary. NASA will be paying $25,001 in total to all the four companies. According to the US space agency, the funding is low because it will be paying only for the collection of the regolith and not for the companies' transport or development costs. "The companies will collect the samples and then provide us with visual evidence and other data that they've been collected," reported BBC quoting a NASA official as saying. Moon May Hold Frozen Water on Surface in More Places Than Suspected, Say Scientists.

NASA will pay to the companies for individual collections of lunar regolith between 50g and 500g. According to reports, the companies will receive 10 percent of the proposed price initially, while 10 percent upon the launch to collect soil samples and the remaining amount on successful completion. Nasa will use the soil in its Artemis programme. This mission aims to send the next man and a woman to the moon by 2024. It is the next step towards human space exploration.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 04, 2020 10:41 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).