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NASA Solidifies Plans to Send Astronauts Back to Moon

NASA offered a blueprint Monday for sending teams of astronauts to the moon by 2020 and building a permanent base there by 2024. An editor of NASA Watch explains the plans.

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    NASA's plans to return to the moon came into much sharper focus yesterday, with the announcement it will build a small base at the moon's south pole by 2024.

    For more about this plan, we turn to Keith Cowing, editor of, an online space news publication.

    Keith, welcome. And remind us again, why is it that we want to go back to the moon?

  • KEITH COWING, Editor,

    Well, what you saw today, Gwen, was sort of, like you said, bringing things into sharper focus from a speech that President Bush made back in January 2004, where he simply said we're going back to the moon to learn how to live there and then to learn how to go on to explore other planets.

    But we also want to explore the moon as a scientific object in its own right. So what you saw today was further sharpening of these goals and objectives so as to take the president's vision, as they call it, and put it into hardware.