Luna - Earth's Moon
The Moon is the only other planetary body upon which humans have set foot. However, there has been a hiatus of over 30 years in the human exploration of space since that last step on the moon by an astronaut of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Times though are changing. A new space race is in progress with China, Europe, India, Japan and the United States planning missions to the moon.
Wait! With the budget deficit and economic recession, the Americans in 2010 decided that they will not be returning to the moon after all - at least not in the foreseeable future. China still plans a manned lunar mission by 2025. NASA is proposing sending astronauts to near earth asteroids around the same time.
Future manned exploration of the moon, whenever or by whomever it occurs, will probably include the establishment of permanent bases. Initial unmanned moon exploration will be looking for local resources necessary to establish such bases, so as to minimize dependence on earth.
Availability of such resources at certain sites, together with topographic advantages and ability to satisfy mission objectives, will be key in the determination of base location. Moonbases presents in more detail the options involved in the selection of such a base's location.
NASA's Luner Reconnaissance Orbiter mission was launched toward the moon on an Atlas V rocket in June 2009. The mission hoped to discover what the moon has to offer for the future moon dwellers. The spacecraft is searching for safe landing sites and life sustaining elements (such as water at the poles). The Video portrays the impact mission, which in 2009 impacted the Moon's South Pole searching for definitive evidence of water. The impact was a success and in November 2009 NASA announced that water's presence on the moon has been confirmed. A key requirement for a permanent moon base appears to have been met.