President Donald Trump’s transition team inquired about the profitability and potential commercialization of space resources and technologies in a series of internal communications with NASA obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Motherboard reported Thursday.
David Axe writes the publication gained access to emails, briefings, budget spreadsheets and other documents that indicate the Trump administration’s interest in possible industry benefits from areas such as low Earth orbit operations and mining of raw materials on the moon.
The report said the communications between NASA and Trump’s agency review team could also serve to reflect the White House’s decision to preserve a majority of the space agency’s budget for fiscal year 2018 amid large cuts to other science agencies.
ART sought information on NASA’s technology development and transfer process with the commercial sector as well as updates on survey efforts on the moon using resource-prospector drones, Axe adds.
NASA noted in the documents that it has several procurement and commercialization programs that work to engage industry and expand economic and societal benefits from innovative technologies.
The space agency also said it is working to bring back material samples from the moon’s southern pole as part of scientific research, and Motherboard stressed extraction for commercial purposes will go against international agreements such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.