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.

Another private lunar rover unveiled

Capitalism in space: The private start-up company Lunar Outpost today unveiled its tiny 10 kilogram (22 pound) rover, designed to map lunar resources.

The first Prospector was demonstrated driving and drilling in Lunar regolith simulant at the Colorado School of Mines’ new Lunar testbed facility in the Earth Mechanics Institute overseen by the Center for Space Resources. This event marks the first commercial Lunar Prospector publicly tested in the United States.

Evidence of valuable resources on the Lunar surface, such as water, precious metals, and helium-3 have been established by remote sensing on flyby missions around the Moon. This scientific data has been used to create general resource models of the Lunar surface, which now require ground-truthing to establish optimal landing sites and plan future resource extraction operations. Groups of Lunar Outpost Prospectors will map the surface and subsurface resources of the Moon, while autonomously navigating along waypoints and avoiding hazards such as large rocks and craters. These Prospectors can also be teleoperated if needed and can utilize NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway concept as a center of operations.

This is a tiny inexpensive rover, essentially an upgraded drone. Very smart, and efficent. Below the fold is the company’s video of this demo test. The drilling capability is especially impressive.

Their website does not say how much they will charge for this rover, but they also note that it has 5 kilograms of cargo capacity, meaning that they can also offer this to customers.
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