New images from the European Space Agency (ESA) show what it might be like for the first astronauts living on the moon, with an eerie view of Earth glowing in the distance.
According to The Times, NASA has said it wants to send a man and woman to the moon again by 2024, and from there to Mars by the 2030s.
Earlier this week, the space agency also released the names of the 18 astronauts eligible for such early missions - which will involve building a sustainable lunar colony, allowing engineers to learn how they can use the moon's resources including water from ice in its craters.
NASA also hopes it will be able to study unexplored areas, providing from which astronauts could eventually travel to Mars.
Aidan Cowley, an ESA adviser, said that it was 'no longer a question of if this will happen'.
"It has to happen because if we're really serious about the exploration of the moon, or Mars, or anywhere beyond that, this is technology we need to master very soon," he told The Times.
Jan Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency, has dubbed the new settlement the 'Moon Village'.
Wörner said: "My intention is to build up a permanent base station on the Moon.
"Meaning that it's an open station, for different member states, for different states around the globe."
Cowley believes that the buildings astronauts can live in will start being constructed within the decade.
Resembling cylindrical structures, they need to shield the astronauts against radiation exposure, with Cowley leading plans to use regolith - the lunar soil on the moon, which is as thin as icing sugar - to build one-metre-deep protective layers.
Scientists think these regolith walls and roofs will not only help protect the buildings against radiation, but also the moon's freezing temperatures, which can reach minus 190°C at night.
The material made from the top layer of soil would be collected by robots, before being converted by 3D printers and left to bake in the sun.
For the first few years of their mission on the moon, astronauts will likely live in pressurised, mobile habitats.
However, a more permanent base would be near the Shackleton crater, located at the moon's south pole - where there is near constant sunlight, meaning solar panels could be installed to provide power.
The Shackleton crater also contains ice, which astronauts could mine to provide hydrogen and oxygen both for fuel and breathable air.
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