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Forget Mars, for now—a top NASA scientist says that humans will live and work on the moon within the decade 

November 21, 2022, 6:52 PM UTC
Photo of Artemis rocket.
The Artemis I rocket with Orion spacecraft before lift off from launch pad at NASA's space center.
Paul Hennessy—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

People could be living and working on the moon before you know it—at least according to one NASA scientist.

“Certainly, in this decade, we are going to have people living for durations, depending on how long we will be on the surface.” Howard Hu, a NASA official, told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday. “They’ll have habitats, and they’ll have rovers on the ground. That’s what we’re also working on at NASA.”

Hu was light on details, but had some ideas about what the next generation of moon tourists might be up to. 

“We are going to be sending people down to the surface, and they are going to be living on that surface and doing science,” he added

Hu serves as the program manager of the Orion spacecraft, which he said has already started playing a major role in eventually getting humans to live on the moon for extended periods of time. Last week, NASA launched a rocket called Artemis 1 from its space center in Florida, carrying an uncrewed Orion spacecraft. If the mission is successful, the next Artemis launch will have crew members in the Orion spacecraft, and a third that would be the first moon landing since Apollo 17 in 1972. 

“It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but the world. I think this is a historic day for NASA, but it’s also a historic day for all the people who love human space flight and deep-space exploration,” he said.

As of Monday, the Orion spacecraft was 81 miles above the moon, NASA said

And what happens after the moon? The red planet is next. 

“Moving forward is really to Mars,” Hu said. “That is a bigger stepping stone, a two-year journey, so it’s going to be really important to learn beyond our Earth orbit.”

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