8th Jan. 2016 ::
The European Space Agency has announced that it wants to put humans back on the moon and to build a permanent base.
"This return to the Moon envisions a series of human missions starting in the early 2020s that would see astronauts interact with robots on the lunar surface from orbit"
Following on from last years video - showing the extent of ESA's ambition
the new statement fleshes out plans for a mission starting in the 2020's commencing with robotic trail blazers, that will eventually work in tandem with astronauts on the Moon's surface.
"Robots will land first, paving the way for human explorers."
The ESA statement explains that by learning from the the success of the International Space Station partnership, the European space community now sees the Moon as a springboard - the next step - to continue human exploration of the Solar System, with Mars as the next goal.
Another driver of this renewed interest in the Moon is the hunt for lunar resources, in particular for frozen volatiles - including water ice - which are known to be concealed within permanent cold spots at the lunar poles. How much is there? As much as 600 million metric tons (158 billion US gallons) as been announced after previous missions such as NASA's LCROSS which smashed in to the Moon's surface in 2009 specifically to look for water.
'Significant' water found on Moon (BBC 13 November 2009)
Earth's Moon, by Me back in 2012