NASA plans to begin construction of the lunar orbital station in 2022. This outpost will be a waypoint for future missions to the lunar surface and to more distant destinations like Mars
The moon will not replace Mars as a colony location, despite the fact that NASA is now focusing on astronauts returning to Earth’s satellite again. The red planet remains the ultimate goal, and the moon will serve only as a stepping stone on this path. This was announced by NASA administrator Jim Brydenstein. It is possible to consider the Moon as a testing ground, and Mars as a target.
The beauty of the earth satellite is that from it to the Earth only 3 days of flight. Therefore, it will be much easier to deliver all the necessary technologies, reducing the risks and timing. Moreover, if an emergency situation occurs, the astronauts will quickly evacuate. The Martian mission is planned for the 2030s, but no one bothers to engage in the moon before this time and to speed up the path to the colonization of other worlds.
This statement is consistent with Space Policy Directive 1, signed in December 2017 by Donald Trump. The main goal is to return astronauts to the moon as part of a sustainable research program that will lead to further worlds. NASA plans to start building a small space station in lunar orbit in 2022. This outpost will be ready to receive crew members in 2026. Astronauts will be able to stay on board for 30-90 days, conducting a lot of scientific and research work. Some can even descend to the lunar surface. The first such departures are expected in the late 2020s. Moreover, NASA states that they are not trying to limit themselves exclusively to Americans. Their task is to turn the lunar outpost into another international station with the participation of private companies.
Nobody forgets about Mars. Simply, the Moon can serve as an excellent preparation before sending people to a more distant and dangerous object. The proposed lunar spacecraft may become a model for the future Martian flight.