Are you a business owner? If so, you may be eligible to go to the moon.

NASA plans on teaming up with private companies for lunar exploration. Known as the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown, NASA will award a private company the ability to mine the moon for rare metals and helium 3. NASA will provide the company with a contract to create prospecting robots for lunar mining purposes.

This contract is a “no funds exchanged” Space Agreement Act, which means the government will not be funding the trip to the moon, but the project will receive the support of NASA.

The final proposals are due on March 17, 2014.

NASA typically partners with private companies to work on projects on the International Space Station. However, as you probably know, funds are pretty low. Therefore, NASA is trying to find new ways to gain funding such as crowdsourcing campaigns. NASA recently took the crowdsourcing route with the company, Planetary Resources, to advance its asteroid-finding algorithm program. Planetary Resources is a privately owned company that aims to one day mine asteroids.

The whole idea of lunar mining is starting to trigger the debate over who owns the moon. In 1967, the United Nations issued the Outer Space Treaty which bans countries from claiming ownership of the moon. However, the possibility of a private company heading to mine the moon has relaunched this debate.

Ian Crawford is a planetary science professor who spoke to ‘The Telegraph’ about lunar property rights.

“There’s a strong case for developing international law in this area because in 1967 it was not envisaged that anyone other than nation states would be able to explore the moon. Clearly that is changing now and there is a case for developing the outer space treaty to include private organizations that may wish to explore the moon.”

What companies do you think will take advantage of this opportunity?

Source: The Verge