Nasa is looking for private companies who want to help it get to the moon.
That could be the first step towards mining the moon, but it would also give the academic community a chance to send scientific instruments there.
"If there was a private capability of landing on the moon, there would be a lot of scientific interest in that," says Crawford.
The moon is thought to contain, among other things, rare earth metals and helium-3, which is used in nuclear fusion.
Helium-3 is not abundant on Earth, but some estimates say there should be millions of tons of it on the moon.
But we don't yet know enough about what potential prospectors would find if they went to the moon to exploit its natural resources. "It's too early to say they would find anything," says Crawford.