Humans could return to the Moon in the next decade and live there a decade after, a new study claims. The announcement was made on the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew’s first steps on the lunar surface.
The study, performed by NexGen Space LLC and partly funded by NASA, concludes that the space agency could land humans on the Moon in the next five to seven years, build a permanent base 10 to 12 years after that, and do it all within the existing budget for human spaceflight. The way for NASA to do this is to adopt the same practice that it’s using for resupplying the International Space Station (and will eventually use for crew transport) — public-private partnerships with companies like SpaceX, Orbital ATK, or the United Launch Alliance.
NASA can cut the cost of establishing a human presence on the Moon “by a factor of 10,” according to Charles Miller, NexGen president and the study’s principal investigator. Savings of that magnitude would allow NASA to expand its ambitions for lunar exploration without reaching beyond the almost $4 billion per year it receives for human spaceflight.