NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has revealed hopes for a permanent base on the moon.
At a meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston this week, Mr Bridenstine gave details on plans to build ‘Gateway’ modules to orbit the moon and close gaps in space exploration.
The gateway modules would be crafts that orbit the moon rather than a settlement, which would make it easier for astronauts to stay in orbit and carry out brief surface missions lasting between 30 to 60 days.
In future years a second Gateway could be used to take humans to Mars in ambitious NASA plans.
The NASA Administrator said: “What we don’t want to do is go to the surface of the moon, prove that we can do it again, and then be done.
“We want to go to stay. And the Gateway, in my view – I’ve been convinced – enables us to take advantage of commercial and international partners in a more robust way so we are there to stay, it enables us to get to more parts of the moon than ever before, and it enables us to get to Mars.”