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Private Companies Reportedly Interested In Building Permanent Moon Base

28/05/2013 11:46 BST | Updated 28/07/2013 10:12 BST

Visions of a permanent base on the Moon have been part of humanity's collective imagination for thousands of years. And ever since the first successful Moon landings on 1969, it's always seemed just a few decades around the corner.

But now it's 2013, and we're still not living on our nearest natural satellite. So what hope is there that things will change in the near-to-medium term future?

According to Nasa, and Bigelow Aerospace, relatively good.

The American space agency recently commissioned Bigelow to look into how private companies might approach building a settlement on the Moon - and whether they would actually want to attempt it.

The report isn't out yet, but in a 'pre-brief' conference Bigelow president Robert Bigelow and Nasa's head of space operations William Gerstenmaier said that after a survey of 20 aerospace giants, several seem interested in the idea.

Bigelow reportedly said that companies are interested in space exploration for several reasons, including development of pharmaceuticals to mining on the Lunar surface. It is also seen as a potential launchpad for companies looking to go beyond the Moon, potentially to asteroids or even Mars.

Bigelow will deliver the first draft of the report to Nasa in the next few weeks, where we should learn more about who is interested in a Moon base, and what the chances of it actually happening in our lifetime really are.

Meanwhile Nasa says that it will support private industry building a lunar base, though its own plans are currently fixed on first landing on and then capturing an asteroid for human exploration.

Below: a moon base recently imagined by ESA and Foster & Partners