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The moon is coming back into vogue.
Fifty years after NASA's Apollo 11 mission put the first boots on the lunar surface, many plans are afoot to explore and exploit Earth's nearest neighbor.
NASA - Charge - Artemis - Program - Astronauts
NASA is leading the charge with its Artemis program, which aims to land two astronauts near the moon's south pole by 2024 and to build up a long-term, sustainable presence on and around Earth's nearest neighbor in the ensuing years.
Apollo 11 Moon Landing Giveaway with Simulation Curriculum & Celestron!
Artemis - Pieces - Space - Station - Gateway
One of Artemis' key pieces is a small moon-orbiting space station called the Gateway, which NASA plans to start building in 2022. The Gateway will serve as a staging point for sorties, both crewed and uncrewed, to the lunar surface.
Then, there are the other big government players.
Years - Space - Agency - Officials - Desire
Over the past few years, European Space Agency officials have repeatedly stressed their desire to build a permanent human settlement on the moon. This "moon village," which could take decades to build (if indeed it is built), would likely rise near the south pole.
And China has already embarked on an ambitious robotic lunar-exploration campaign, known as Chang'e (after the Chinese moon goddess). The program successfully sent orbiters to the moon in 2007 and 2010 and dropped landers and rovers onto the surface in 2013 and January of this year. That most recent lunar mission, Chang'e 4, touched down on the moon's mysterious far side — something that had never been done before.
China - Samples - Earth - Research - Outpost
Throughout the 2020s, China plans to return lunar samples to Earth and build a small, robotic research outpost near the moon's south pole. These efforts may well pave the way for crewed exploration of the lunar surface, perhaps in the early 2030s. Chinese space officials have mentioned building a crewed "lunar palace," but this goal is not formally on the nation's docket...
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