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Holidays on the moon: Time to pack your bags?

A permanent "Moon Village" might allow tourists to holiday on the moon, as well as provide opportunities for science, business and mining, the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday.

The agency plans to build the first permanent base on the moon and hopes countries including the U.S., Russia, China, India and Japan will help with the project.

The European Space Agency's prospective Moon Village.
ESA/Foster + Partners

"On the moon village, we would like to combine the different capabilities of space-faring nations, be it robotic or be it human, to look also for different activities, be it pure science, be it also business, even tourism or mining," Johann-Dietrich Woerner, the ESA's director general, said in a video posted to the agency's website on Tuesday.

ESA said the moon's own natural resources, including water ice, metals and minerals, could be used to build and sustain a village. A structure could be 3-D printed and space rovers could land on the moon, inflate a dome and begin constructing a building to protect astronauts.

The lunar village is likely to be built at the moon's North or South Pole, areas of which are cast in near-permanent sunlight or darkness. Potential hazards for astronauts and tourists include solar and cosmic radiation, meteorites and extreme weather.

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Last week, the ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency launched a joint mission to explore the atmosphere of Mars and hunt for signs of life on the planet. The unmanned ExoMars craft is expected to reach the red planet in October.

NASA hopes to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s.

"The Americans are now saying journey to Mars and I totally agree that it's right, humans will go to Mars one day, but this is a little bit far away in the future," Woerner said in the ESA video.

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