Australia agreed to build a 20-kilogram (44-pound) semi-autonomous lunar rover for NASA to take to the moon starting in 2026 in search of oxygen.
The rover would collect soil containing oxides and NASA would use separate equipment to extract oxygen from that soil, a government statement said. The oxygen drawn from the lunar surface would ultimately be used to maintain a human presence on the moon and support future missions to Mars.
Australian Space Agency Deputy Director Anthony Murfett said NASA had been impressed by the technology used to remotely control huge dump trucks carrying iron ore from mines in northwestern Australia from 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers). .
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the deal would strengthen a relationship with Australia related to space exploration that dates back more than 50 years.
The deal depends on the rover meeting a number of conditions during its development.