Nasa plans to put a module in orbit around the moon as a springboard for missions to the red planet – and beyond

Spaceflight will mark an important milestone this year – when Nasa celebrates the 50th anniversary of US astronauts reaching the moon. In December 1968 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – on Apollo 8 – swept over the lunar surface and captured bright blue images of Earth rising above the grey plains of the moon. It was one of the most dramatic space missions ever flown. Manned landings followed, but after a few years, the US lost interest in lunar space flights.

But now Nasa has revealed plans to return to the Moon and has asked European scientists and industry leaders to join the agency in a bold plan aimed at rebooting humanity’s conquest of the solar system – in the form of an international manned station that will orbit the moon within the next decade.

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