The low rates are intended to set a precedent for the private sector's potential exploitation of space resources
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded contracts to four private companies to collect lunar samples for $1 to $15,000.
The low rates are intended to set a precedent for the private sector's potential exploitation of space resources.
Lunar Outpost on Thursday along with other winning bidders Masten Space Systems, based in California, and ispace, based in Tokyo, and its European subsidiary were awarded the contract, reports BBC.
"The plan is for the mission to take place in 2023, but we are working with several different lander companies, which could result in an earlier launch date," Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus told the BBC.
Colorado-based Lunar Outpost, a robotics firm, will be paid $1 for collecting moon rocks from the lunar South Pole.
But the fee is not the motivation for these companies. There are expected to be many scientific benefits to the mission such as allowing firms to practice extracting resources from the lunar surface.
Cyrus called it "a paradigm shift in the way society thinks about space exploration".
The company is in talks with Blue Origin and several other companies that are working to fly to the moon.
Blue Origin is a space exploration firm set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Among the other winning bids, Japan's ispace will be paid $5,000 for its proposed collection in 2022 on the Moon's north-eastern near side.
Not about the money
"The nominal amount of even a dollar is an important precedent that Nasa is setting," said Sinead O'Sullivan, a space expert.
"The innovation here is not of financial value but of creating business and legal norms of creating a market of buyers and sellers outside of Earth's constraints," she added.
The awards for the three companies will be paid in a three-step process. A total of 10% of the funds at the time of the award, 10% when the company launches its collection spacecraft, and 80% when Nasa verifies the company collected the material.
"Yes, the $1 will come in three tiny but important installments of $0.10, $0.10, and $0.80," joked Cyrus.
The space agency's announcement on Thursday comes as China conducts its own lunar sample collection mission.
The Chinese Chang'e-5 lunar spacecraft is currently on its way back to Earth with samples from the moon.