Despite the fact that NASA one day wants to have an occupied research facility on Mars for astronauts to temporarily settle on as they conduct experiments and learn more about our solar system, the European Space Agency is working on a completely separate project to have astronauts occupying a research base on the Moon by the 2030’s.
Such a lunar ‘village’ would allow astronauts to conduct experiments and learn more about the Moon without having to return to Earth so soon. The structure of such a base would most likely be 3D-printed, just like a facility on Mars would be, which means that supplies to build such a base would be easier to fit on board a rocket to send there with some engineers.
Obviously, NASA is aiming for the stars with their plans to send astronauts to Mars, but the Moon is so much closer to the Earth, that it would work as a great initial testing ground to see how long-term life on a distant spatial body would fare for humans. After all, it takes 6 months at the minimum to get from Earth to Mars, which isn’t exactly a short trip, making emergencies a lot more critical.
The European Space Agency has shared a new video on YouTube that goes over some of the details about such a base, which ca be viewed below:
This kind of village would allow humans to take advantage of the Moon for its resources. On the moon, there are traces of water ice, metals, and minerals that could help sustain such a project. Moreover, demonstrating the capability of mankind to extend our reach to the Moon may one day sustain tourism or mineral importation to Earth.
The long-term goal of the European Space Agency is to open a new door in space travel, and to use the Moon to further grow the human footprint in our solar system. Obviously, this is speaking from pure interpretation, but the short-term goal is to expand on research conducted on the Apollo missions and allow human scientists, rather than robots, to conduct intelligent tests and research.