NASA just cut a 10-cent check to kick-start moon mining tech

NASA Administrator BIll Nelson presents Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus with a check for 10 cents. (Image credit: Space Foundation)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — NASA has cut a 10 cent check to space startup Lunar Outpost in the first-ever payment to a company to mine the moon.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson presented Justin Cyrus, CEO of Colorado-based space startup Lunar Outpost, with the first payment ever issued to a company as part of a space resource contract announced Aug. 23 here at the 36th annual Space Symposium. The check, which was just 10 cents, or 10 percent of Lunar Outpost’s $1 bid, and will go towards the company’s efforts to collect lunar dust, or regolith, for the agency.

We had contractual terms with them when they produce their first element. We would give them 10% of their contract award. I am happy to present a check for 10% of their bid. Justin, here’s a check for 10 cents,” Nelson said.

This sets a legal and procedural framework that will be utilized for generations and decades to come for companies like ours and many others to go out and collect resources from the lunar surface from other planetary bodies and make them basically useful for humanity,” Cyrus said. 

Lunar Outpost has previously “developed an air quality sensor to meet NASA’s need to contain hazardous moon dust,” Nelson explained Monday during a press briefing at Space Symposium. This work has “led to a technology that senses pollutants on earth to protect firefighters.” 

Now, as part of this contract, the company will “collect a small amount of moon dust, verify the collection and transfer the ownership of that lunar regolith,” Nelson said. “Space resources will play a key role in NASA’s Artemis program and the future of space exploration. The ability to extract and use extra terrestrial resources will ensure Artemis operations can be conducted safely and sustainably in support of human exploration.”

Nelson pointed to the future of lunar resource utilization, with the expected possibility that future missions to the moon could use lunar regolith to create a type of “cement” to build facilities and water ice to create rocket fuel or use for other purposes.