You can now buy payload space on a lunar rover!

Capitalism in space: Lunar Outpost, which is building a mini-rover that will fly on the private Intuitive Machines lunar lander scheduled for launch later this year, has now partnered with the company Copernic to sell the rover’s spare payload space to whoever wants to buy it.

Lunar Outpost of Evergreen, Colorado, is preparing to send a 10-kilogram robotic rover to the moon on an Intuitive Machines lander and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket later this year. While the lander’s primary payload is a Nokia LTE 4G technology demonstration, Lunar Outpost is working with Copernic Space to sell an additional 3.475 kilograms on its first Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP).

…Copernic Space created the online platform to streamline the process of buying and selling space-related products and services like shares in a space startup, satellite sensor tasking or payload space. By applying blockchain technology, Copernic Space converts space assets into non-fungible or digital tokens, which are designed to be bought and sold online.

For the next 11 days, Lunar Outpost is selling a gram of payload capacity on its MAPP Lunar Rover for $4,250. The minimum order is 100 grams. In April, the public sale begins, allowing people to buy or sell as little as one-hundredth of a gram of payload space.

It appears purchase will be by using blockchain currency, and appears to also involve the purchase of “non-fungible or digital tokens”.

Normally I would applaud this effort, but the addition of these digital tokens makes the sale process seem less than straightforward and even a little suspicious. What exactly are customers buying? And what exactly will go to the Moon? Copernic’s website describes this process, but even there its seems exceedingly vague and uncomfortably like a con game.

From what I can gather, customers who buy payload space can use Copernic to create these non-fungible tokens which can then be resold to others to make back some of the cost. I wonder, however, why would anyone buy these tokens in the first place. As far as I can tell, they have absolutely no value in the real world.