50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy told the United States that man would go to the moon. Soon, another American president may announce that the same celestial body will serve as a waypoint for manned space exploration. The Verge has learned that NASA intends to deploy a robotic lunar rover on the Moon in 2017 to search for water and other resources necessary for space travel, and that NASA may have secured support from the White House for an actual manned outpost — a space station — floating above the far side of the moon.
Rumors of such a deep-space outpost surfaced as early as February of this year, when a leaked memo from a NASA administrator detailed an idea to build a "human-tended waypoint" at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 (EML-2): a point in space where balanced gravitational forces allow an object to remain in stationary orbit relative to both the Earth and the Moon. From there, NASA could launch missions deeper into space — say, to Mars, or a near-Earth asteroid — using the base as a stepping stone.