The United States took the lead in the Space Race with the Soviet Union when it became the first to put a man on the moon in 1969. It was an amazing feat -- President John F. Kennedy set a goal in 1961 of getting man to the moon and back, and it happened. The whole world was watching, and it's hard for me to comprehend the excitement of watching Neil Armstrong take those first steps. Science fiction authors and others had long been writing about living on the moon, but now that we'd been there, it seemed like a real possibility. Although NASA sent men back to the moon four more times, interest in exploring it died down. More than four decades after first setting foot on its surface, we're no closer to a colony.
That doesn't mean there hasn't been talk of it, though. Probes sent to the moon by NASA have returned varying reports about the potential of water (in the form of ice) on its surface. A source of water would be useful to a colony. In 2004, after U.S. President George W. Bush announced that we should have manned spaceflights to the moon again, NASA planned to have an outpost by 2020. But the program was scrapped. Other countries and space organizations have their own plans. China, India, Japan, Russia and the European Space Agency have all had recent plans to go to the moon, and some of them include either temporary outposts or permanent bases. There are still a lot of logistics to be worked out before colonizing the moon -- figuring out long-term sources of food, water, power and atmosphere are just a start. What about how to handle the low gravity or the political ramifications of colonization (who would own it)? Maybe I could visit the moon in my lifetime, but I don't see living on it.