Moon samples like rocks and dust are highly valuable and sought after and impossible to get legally as a private individual, because of the fact that USA owns all of the samples in existence, from the Apollo program(A lawsuit about a certain vial of moon-dust[last picture] from Neil Armstrong comes to mind).

Some moon-rocks show in auctions from time to time, and most of the time it is a scam or a meteorite, but sometimes its a legit sample stolen from somewhere, because USA has sent and given many rocks and dust to other countries. But legit samples are unicorn rare.

So, I was thinking can there be a company that does sample return missions and sells lunar material to museums, jewelers and such interested parties. After all, the rockets required are soon to be available(SpaceX super heavy, New Glenn, the SLS, etc.), there are landers that are being developed (talking about the Artemis Program landers - blue moon, and the spacex's and the other one)

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P.S. There is a marijuana strain called moon-rocks that you might come across if you search for "moon rocks" google, and it looks the part too, which is something :)

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    $\begingroup$ This does not change your question, but the USSR also retrieved samples from the Moon. Moon rocks that fall as meteorites are legitimate Moon rocks. So I doubt the USA has all of the samples. $\endgroup$
    – JohnHoltz
    Aug 29, 2020 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ From Private company plans to bring Moon rocks back to Earth in three years, "Moon Express co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain happily let his imagination riff on possible Moon rock applications when we talked with him earlier this spring: “The Moon has been a symbol of love for hundreds of generations,” Jain said. “‘Everyone gives someone a diamond, if you love someone enough, you give them the Moon.” " $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2020 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnHoltz The US has already given away multiple Apollo samples, so they demonstrably do not have all the samples. $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Aug 30, 2020 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ This seems relevant: NASA wants to buy Moon rocks from private companies $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2020 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


I don't think it's possible to make a profitable Lunar sample return mission because each bit of Moon you bring back devalues all the other Moon rocks. Additionally, unlike other rare collectables like fine art, any reasonable (and wealthy) investor would know that the only way Moon rock prices will go in the future is down.

To illustrate, let's look at a recent Lunar mission: SpaceIL's ill-fated "Beresheet" lander. This craft cost about \$100 million including launch, but did not have a sample return component. Let's just ballpark an optimistic 50% increase in price to return a couple kilos of Moon rock back to Earth, so a $150 million mission in total.

Now, is there anyone who's willing to pay over $50 million per kilo of dull rock? Maybe, but I think it's unlikely. Now, what happens if the price of launch drops or the spacecraft becomes more capable? Well, they'll be able to retrieve more Moon rocks, thus making the others cheaper because, besides limited scientific value, most of the value is derived from "uniqueness". Unfortunately for Moon rock investors, the longer they own their Moon rocks, the less they will be worth because their "uniqueness" will decrease as getting moon rocks deceases in price.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, but are people willing to pay $50K for a gram of moon rock? $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2020 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ 5-carat (1 gram) diamonds are starting at around \$10,000. 1kg is 5000 carat, so \$50mln. Moon rocks aren't as pretty but certainly more rare. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Aug 29, 2020 at 23:44
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    $\begingroup$ It's all about marketing I suppose; De Beers has been successfully throttling diamonds for a century and now battles lower-cost synthetic diamonds as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 30, 2020 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: The now either defunct or soon to be defunct Agyle Diamond Mine created a jewellery market for what previously were yellow & brown industrial grade diamonds by calling them champagne & cognac diamonds ... oo la la, a la francais, must be special ;-) Kudos to the Marketing Department! $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Aug 30, 2020 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek - That was the point of Apollo 11. There were six follow-on missions, five of which were successful. That the primary point was to beat the Soviet Union was why I attributed only 7% of the cost to the retrieved moon rocks. (I did of course cheat and chose 7% because that came up to more than \$50 million per kilogram.) $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2020 at 17:30

If the government would decide to bring lots of rocks from various places on the Moon, a private company only needs to offer to do this cheaper. Such a need may happen while planing a long term Lunar base that would attempt to utilize at least some resources from the surrounding rocks.

The actual price for the rock samples may be high and not relevant to that the casual collector would pay or how much shiny the samples are. It is a price for the information that geologists would be able to infer from the rocks and pass to the engineers and mission planners. Samples from geologically different enough spots will not devaluate each other.


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