European Space Agency Plans to Mine the Moon for Natural Resources

The project will try to distill water and oxygen out of moon dust to assist future space travel.

Moon landing
NASA will return to the moon by 2024. (Getty)
Getty Images

The European Space Agency is looking to the moon as its next source for water and oxygen.

The agency announced Monday it has signed a one-year contract with a European aerospace company to explore mining lunar soil (moon dust) for two key elements of life, CNN reported.

“The use of space resources could be a key to sustainable lunar exploration,” said David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, in a statement. “This study is part of ESA’s comprehensive plan to make Europe a partner in global exploration in the next decade.”

Both water and oxygen can be extracted from the soil, also called regolith, which might make it easier for humans to spend extended periods of time on the moon in the future. The research could also open doors for the production of rocket fuel on the moon, enabling future expeditions to leave from a low-gravity departure point and allow them to travel further into space, the aerospace company said.

The mission would be a collaboration between aerospace scientists and ArianeGroup technicians in France, Germany and Belgium, and is estimated to take place around 2025.

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