The U.S. space organization still has big plans for the Earth's moon

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will next month unveil a dynamic strategy of space exploration that includes possible plans for the Earth's moon.  The use of robotic devices and possible manned launches to the moon are some of the ideas that will be discussed.  The Space Resources Roundtable meeting, held at the Colorado School of Mines at the beginning of the month, discussed prospective uses of the moon.  Several prominent researchers have previously exclaimed that the moon is still an important stepping stone in future research.      

A speech by U.S. President George W. Bush outlines a plan that has NASA heading back to the moon and future missions to Mars.  Researchers are currently debating whether or not NASA needs to stop at the moon before heading to Mars -- some see a possible pit stop at the moon as an unnecessary detour that would simply use much needed resources.

The moon is a popular objective for international space organizations.  A Russian space corporation hopes to build a permanent lunar base while mining Helium-3, a rare non-radioactive isotope used in nuclear fusion research.  The Chinese space agency hopes to have its first man on the moon by the year 2024 -- four years after a Chinese craft is scheduled to land on the moon to collect soil samples.  Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes to build a manned lunar base in 2030.

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