Richards, the founder and CEO of a small startup company called Moon Express, isn’t predicting a race of super-wealthy aliens descending to Earth. Rather, he’s looking to space as a place of vast and potentially lucrative opportunity. His company wants to make money offering governments, institutions, or anyone else who can pay, the opportunity to send their stuff to the moon.
But Moon Express’ ultimate goal isn’t just to become an interplanetary FedEx. The company is playing a long game: They hope to one day mine resources from the moon, kickstarting the industrialization of space and perhaps beginning the process of moving people off this world.
Over the last 4 billion years, the lunar surface has received a shellacking from millions of asteroids, most of which contained rare earth elements and precious metals such as platinum. Many mines on Earth are the remains of former asteroid impact craters.