NASA Doesn’t Dig Moon Mining Mission, Ditches Robotic Lunar Resource Prospector Trip

NASA is pulling the plug on its only planned robotic mission

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, second from left, examines a replica of the Mars Science Laboratory rover at NASA' Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Damian Dovarganes / AP Images

NASA is pulling the plug on its only planned robotic mission

NASA has scrapped its lunar Resource Prospector mission, and no other similar missions are scheduled at this time. The small rover which was intended to mine materials like hydrogen, oxygen, and water from the lunar poles, but at this time, NASA has chosen not to move forward with its planned mission. Now NASA lunar scientists are angry, saying that without missions like the robotic Resource Prospector, we won’t be able to get humans back on the moon anytime soon.

The NASA Resource Prospector Had Potential To Mine On The Moon

The Verge says that the Resource Prospector was meant to discover what materials are just beneath the surface of the Moon’s poles. Previous lunar spacecraft has proven that there is water on the Moon’s surface (as ice), but NASA needs to learn more.

The Resource Prospector could learn more over time about what the water/ice is like, and how much there is on the Moon. The robotic exploration would help NASA plan all future lunar missions with the potential of mining the water to turn into drinking water on Earth.

Phil Metzger, a planetary physicist at the University of Central Florida who was part of the team for the NASA Resource Prospector said that the project is going no further at this time.

“There are no other [NASA] missions being planned to go to the surface of the Moon.”

A group of scientists is urging NASA to reverse the decision to scrap the Resource Prospector mission. The grouped together and wrote a letter to NASA’s new administrator, Jim Bridenstine in an attempt to get the NASA Resource Prospector mission back on schedule, says Clive Neal, an engineering professor at the University of Notre Dame and LEAG Emeritus Chair.

“We wanted to make him aware so he could do his own investigation as to why Space Policy Directive 1 is being ignored.”

Many scientists believe that the NASA Resource Prospector is the key to opening up a lunar economy. Several private space companies are eager to mine on the Moon for resources including water and minerals. They want to create “space depots” to hold fuel for future missions and establishing what resources are on the Moon and in what quantity is a critical first step.

It was believed that the Resource Prospector was in line with the Trump plan, Space Policy Directive 1, which was launched in 2017, so many people are confused about what went wrong, says Digital Journal. Trump told NASA that he wanted to put humans back on the Moon and work on future trips to Mars.

Scientists Are Hoping That NASA Will Put The Resource Prospector Back On The Schedule

Jim Bridenstine was sworn in last week by VP Mike Pence, and so the scientists behind the letter are hoping that he can be swayed and will reinstate the Resource Prospector mission. Sources are claiming that it was scrapped due to budgetary concerns, but scientists are urging the Bridenstine put the Resource Prospector project back under the NASA Human Exploration project and out of the NASA science budget,