In the first category we find, first and foremost, the development of permanent human bases both in orbit and on the surface of the Moon, which should eventually become a staging point for future missions to Mars. They are backed by technologies needed to return “large cargo mass” from both the Moon and Mars, and integrated human and robotic systems.
Going deeper into those general ideas with Moon and Mars infrastructure proposals, NASA envisions the creation of a lunar infrastructure needed to support constant human presence there. By that, NASA understands a lunar power grid, communications, GPS, surface transportation, depots and even on-site manufacturing.
As far as Mars goes, these ambitions are somewhat toned down, and so far include only sufficient power generation to support initial human arrivals and communications.
As far as operations and science go, NASA plans in the near future to conduct research and demonstrations “on the surface of the Earth, low Earth orbit platforms, cislunar platforms, and on the surface of the Moon.”
The 50-point plan is as official as it gets, but, as said, so far only a draft. NASA asked “U.S. industry, academia, international communities, and other stakeholders to provide input on its deep space exploration objectives,” as it looks to see if anything is missing, could be improved upon, or simply removed from the agenda.
The plan, titled Moon to Mars Objectives, is extremely extensive in scope, and possibly covers the next few decades of space exploration. Anticipating that companies might see this as an invitation to contracts, NASA said “no formal request for information or other procurement activity is anticipated for this effort.”
The agency is accepting public comments on the plan until May 31.