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NASA unveils lunar base plans
Posted: Tue, Dec 5, 2006, 8:24 AM ET (1324 GMT)
Lunar base illustration (NASA) NASA plans to develop a base near one of the poles of the Moon that will be permanently inhabited by 2024. The lunar exploration architecture, unveiled on Monday in Houston, calls for human missions to the Moon to begin by 2020, starting with one-week stays that eventually expand to half-year expeditions. NASA plans to gradually build up a base near one the poles, with the crater Shackleton near the south pole a leading candidate. Bases at those locations would enjoy near-constant sunlight and are also near permanently-shadowed regions that may harbor deposits of water ice. NASA also released Monday what it called the initial elements of a "Global Exploration Strategy" that explains why humans should go to the Moon and what people should do once they're there. The strategy was developed with the assistance of experts in a number of countries, although what roles, if any, those countries may play in the lunar architecture are uncertain.
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