US space agency National Space and Aeronautics Administration (Nasa) has invited proposals from companies for its Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown programme. Nasa will offer its technology and facilities to the winning bidder to deliver small payloads on the Moon, though the programme will strictly be a no funds exchanged one. Analysts may have jumped the gun claiming that this marks the birth of mining of the Moon by manthe 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the UN prohibits countries from doing this while no such prohibition on individuals and companies existsbut the idea remains exciting. The Moon is rich in helium-3, used in fusion cyclesimagine what this could mean for our energy security. But since such expeditions would need massive investment, the US seems to have the right idea in testing the waters for private sector involvement. Meanwhile, 13 of out of the 37 private space flight programmes hitherto announced (including collaborations) involve US-based companies and Planetary Resources, a US-based firm, is looking at mining asteroids. The new space race is about opening up the cosmos for the private sector and the US, so far, is winning it.