It could happen in the decade after NASA retires the space shuttle in 2010 and begins flying a new generation of rocket booster. And it won't be a temporary visit, NASA officials and scientists said Sunday.
The United States, they said, focus on creating a permanent presence on the moon, using it as a training platform for missions to Mars and beyond.
"We're going back, and this time we're going to stay,'' S. Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames, said in remarks opening the lunar science conference. "This is the first step in settling the solar system.''