Australian-built rover to go to moon in 2026 in mission with NASA
(CNN) An Australian-made rover will explore the Moon as early as 2026 in the country's first foray into lunar exploration.
Australia has signed a deal with NASA to develop a small rover that will have the ability to pick up lunar rock and dust and bring it back to a moon lander operated by NASA.
The lunar soil, or regolith, is expected to contain oxygen in the form of oxide and -- using separate equipment -- NASA will aim to extract oxygen from the samples.
"This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon, as well supporting future missions to Mars," the Australian government said in a statement.
Australia, we're going to the Moon.
🌙We've reached an agreement with @NASA for an Australian-made rover to be part of a future mission, harnessing our skills and expertise in the resources sector.
pic.twitter.com/uoJLis2YPr — Australian Space Agency (@AusSpaceAgency) October 12, 2021The agreement, which includes a contribution of 50 million Australian dollars ($37 million), is part of Australia's Moon to Mars initiative.
"This is lunar history for Australia.
We're going to see Australian businesses, researchers, design and build a rover that's going to go to the moon and do some interesting science," Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, told Australia's "Today" breakfast television show.