'Moon village' plans winning worldwide support
Futuristic plans for a "moon village" proposed by the European Space Agency (Esa) are winning support from around the world.
The idea is to set up a permanent human outpost on the moon that will be a base for science, business, mining and even tourism.
Esa director general Jan Woerner said the moon village was discussed by member state ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland to decide space funding.
At a press conference after the two-day meeting he said: "We are now having a list of actors worldwide who would like to participate in this moon village concept.
"There are ideas of companies - not only ideas, projects of companies - to go to the moon, and they want to be part of this community.
"We are joining forces. There are companies offering payloads. There are public entities going to the moon and offering payloads. Even Nasa is part of this. So therefore the moon village was a part of our discussion at the very beginning."
He stressed that at present the moon village was no more than a concept and did not form part of any mission programme.
Yet the first steps towards making a moon base a reality had already been taken.
"It's started already," he said. "It's a permanent concept. If you want to create a village on Earth you don't need a first day, you just say 'I do it'. And exactly this is what we are doing."
Esa regards the moon as the next logical destination for humans beyond low Earth orbit.