Sources: NRC via The Washington Post [report], The Washington Post
quote: You can't just go straight from Earth to Mars, silly! Going to Mars realistically requires infrastructure in space. And the ISS won't be around much longer. So that's where a Moon base comes in.
quote: It means you don't have to lug rocket fuel from Earth to the Moon.
quote: The moon base is cool-sounding, but a Mars vehicle could be assembled in LEO, couldn't it?
quote: Hydrogen on the moon is great, but you also need oxygen to burn it. You use 6x as much oxygen (by mass), which would indicate even more need to have a local source of oxidizer.
quote: Realistically? No. Constructing things in a zero gravity environment is extremely awkward and difficult. We have NO idea how to even do it.
quote: Did you miss the part where the Hydrogen is in the ice?
quote: However, I hold that you still don't need a moon base to assemble the vehicle.