NASA has taken steps toward excavating moon soil in 2032, including a deployment of a test drill rig to the moon this summer, reported Reuters.
The U.S. space agency is looking to quantify potential resources, including energy, water and moon soil, as a goal to attract commercial investment, noted Gerald Sanders, a rocket scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, who recently spoke at the World Mining Congress 2023 in Brisbane, Australia.
Sanders said NASA plans a larger-scale excavation of moon soil, or regolith, and a pilot processing plant in 2032.
Developing access to resources on the moon will be key to cutting costs and developing a circular economy. “We are trying to invest in the exploration phase, understand the resources… to (lower) risk such that external investment makes sense that could lead to development and production,” said Sanders.
The first customers are expected to be commercial rocket companies who could use the moon’s resources for fuel or oxygen.