US President Donald Trump appears to have considered the money-making potential of mining the moon, according to internal communication between his transition team and the country's space agency, NASA.
Since taking office, Trump has sought to slash the budget of a number of environmental agencies but has largely left NASA alone, and even signed a recent bill to continue funding much of the space agency, according to news.com.au.
That might be because the administration seems to be very interested in NASA's money-making potential, reports Motherboard.
Internal communication between Trump's team and NASA, obtained and published by the website on Thursday, shows the White House quizzed NASA on the commercial potential of the moon.
Specifically, the administration asked about the process NASA goes through to make commercial products with industry and the agency's plan to survey the moon for useful raw materials and evaluate the potential for extraction.
In response NASA wrote: "As ... research and technology efforts mature, appropriate technologies are transferred to industry and commercialised through multiple programs and approaches to benefit a wide range of users ensuring the nation realises the full economic value and societal benefit of these innovations."
The world leading space agency also spruiked its commercial aspirations.
"NASA envisions a future in which low Earth orbit is largely the domain of commercial activity," the agency wrote.
With some of the Earth's most valuable resources dwindling, space mining is looming large as the next frontier for bold prospectors.
Asteroids promise a rich source of precious metals such as gold and platinum and diamonds while the moon has plentiful reserves of "rare earth minerals" used in smartphones, tablets, flat-screen TVs, pharmaceuticals, wind turbines and a range of other technological and military applications.
In 2015 US president then Barack Obama signed a controversial bill giving US companies legal ownership of materials they extract from asteroids, causing some to predict a galactic gold rush will soon take place.
One US company called Planetary Resources - backed by Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, as well as Virgin founder Richard Branson - has already launched its first satellite from the International Space Station to test its asteroid prospecting technology.
But those concerned about an emerging space race have been quick to point out the uncertain legal position of the practice under the 1967 International Space Treaty.