New innovations are pushing down the cost of colonizing the moon, which could make it a reality as soon as 2022, according to NASA's Alexandra Hall, Chris McKay, and John Cumbers.
The revelatory prediction appeared in an issue of The New Space Journal, and it's causing a stir. According to the trio of authors, the entire project could be completed for $10 billion, or less than the cost of the United States' newest aircraft carrier.
"If costs could be pushed down, funding would be less of an issue and alternative pathways to realization can be considered," they wrote.
In their paper, they argued that a crew of 10 people on the moon could mimic what a research team on Antartica looks like. A combination of staff, field scientists, and graduate students could rotate through the base, which would be "heavily supported by autonomous and remotely operated robotic devices."
"The big takeaway is that new technologies, some of which have nothing to do with space — such as self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets — are going to be incredibly useful in space, and are driving down the cost of a moon base to the point where it might be easy to do," McKay wrote in Popular Science.
And by building a base at the moon's North Pole craters, which essentially receives year-round sunlight, it could be powered in large part by solar energy.
While the project would be a feat in itself, it could also serve as preparation for a trip to colonize Mars, which NASA says it hopes to do by 2030.
Cover photo: Mario Tama / Getty