"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Neil Armstrong said when humans first landed on the moon. It's been 46 years since those words were spoken, and more than 42 since anyone has walked on the moon.
A new study is suggesting that humans could soon return to the natural satellite of the Earth in the next five to seven years, with a permanent base possible just ten years later.
Financial restrictions have held NASA back in the past, with estimations for the trip escalating to around $100 billion. But according to new research, the costs are as "low" as $10 billion to travel there and another $40 billion to stay.
The low cost is thanks to public-private partnerships including the use of resources from privately owned companies like SpaceX. The process is already used to resupply NASA's International Space Station.
The plan also relies on the development of reusable spacecraft and lunar landers to reduce costs.
Mark Hopkins, executive committee chair of the National Space Society said: “A factor of ten reduction in cost changes everything.”
The study was conducted by the National Space Society and the Space Frontier Foundation which are two non-profit organisations that advocate building human settlements beyond Earth.
It was reviewed by an independent team of former NASA executives, astronauts, and space policy experts.
The report also envisions setting up a lunar industrial base that can mine water from its surface and processes it into hydrogen, then send the hydrogen into orbit around the moon.
This would then be collected by space crafts traveling to other planets, such as Mars and would provide them with a boost, almost like a fuel station. It could even help astronauts step foot on the red planet for the first time.
Currently, the Curiosity rover has been on the Gale crater of Mars since its successful landing on August 6th, 2012.
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