By 2040, a hundred people will live on the Moon, melting ice for water, 3D-printing homes and tools, eating plants grown in lunar soil, and competing in low-gravity, "flying" sports. To those who mock such talk as science fiction, experts such as Bernard Foing, ambassador of the European Space Agency-driven "Moon Village" scheme, reply the goal is not only reasonable but feasible too. At a European Planetary Science Congress in Riga this week, Foing spelt out how humanity could gain a permanent foothold on Earth's satellite, and then expand. He likened it to the growth of the railways, when villages grew around train stations, followed by businesses. By 2030, there could be an initial lunar settlement of six to 10 pioneers—scientists, technicians and engineers—which could grow to 100 by 2040, he predicted. "In 2050, you could have a thousand and then... naturally you could envisage to have family" joining crews there, Foing told AFP . Mere decades from now, "there may be the possibility to have children born on the Moon," he enthused. ESA boss Jan Woerner has mooted replacing the orbiting International Space Station with a permanent lunar colony, a futuristic idea that was high on the agenda at this week's expert meeting in the Latvian capital.
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