This is what this country needs to do so much more of, a truly grand adventure.
U.S. Announces Plan for Manned Exploration of Solar System
By Lisa Pickoff-White
December 5 - NASA has announced that it is beginning to develop plans for a solar-powered lunar base in preparation for eventual missions to Mars and beyond. By 2020, four-person crews will begin to establish a lunar base by bringing power supplies and rovers and building living quarters in a series of seven-day missions. Next, the crews will stay at the lunar base for 180-day missions to get ready for voyages to Mars.
NASA is hoping to learn how to live off of the moon’s natural resources, prepare for a journey to Mars, and conduct a range of scientific investigations. Robotic missions will conduct landing site reconnaissance, natural resource surveys, and technological risk assessments prior to a human landing.
In April 2006, NASA initiated the Global Exploration Strategy to help plan for such missions and worked with 13 international space agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and commercial groups. They will continue to work with such groups to plan future missions.