This is what I found on BUSINESSINSIDER.COM:

The last time a NASA spacecraft safely landed on the moon was in December 1972. Nearly half a century after Apollo 17, though, the space agency is itching to return.

NASA announced on Thursday that it’s offering up to $2.6 billion in contracts to nine American companies to get the agency back to the lunar surface.

NASA isn’t going to buy the company’s lunar landers outright, nor will it take responsibility for launching, landing, or controlling the robots. Instead, NASA wants the private sector to deal with those challenges and bid on the opportunity to take NASA’s experiments to the moon and then eventually to Mars.

“On the moon there is water. On the moon, there are precious resources,” Zurbuchen said. “We want to learn how to use these resources because — guess what? — we want to go back with humans and actually use those resources for us to bring back to Earth or to fuel, to breathe, to drink.” This will lead to a path of exploring Mars. “Ultimately we’re going to take it all the way to Mars from the moon,” Bridenstine said. “We want to take advantage of the water ice that we believe is available in the hundreds of billions of tons on the surface of the moon.”


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