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This article should be revisited with updated information. While 2030 might still be an optimistic estimate, there are some new factors to consider:

Russia and the ESA have released plans to move forward with their lunar colonization plans which will help with the cost of establishing a base. If this looks viable there could well be other countries that would chip in for a functioning moon base. This could be more attractive with the ISS being decommissioned in 2024.

Spacex has now landed 2 first stages, one on land and one on water proving that reusability is if not here, very close. This will drive down costs significantly. I don’t have the exact costs to launch to the moon with the falcon heavy but I think the cost to Mars is about $3000/lb (when it is operational possibly as soon as November 2016). The cost to the moon should be less than that.

The proposed site is a crater at one of the poles. The advantage of this is the rim of the crater is in constant sunlight , where the crater bottom has ice (how much is yet to be determined). The plan is to mine the ice to create water, oxygen and rocket fuel. This would make a lunar base much more viable.

The current plan to create the base is to 3d print the shells around an expandable module to be done with landers that would use lunar material as the raw material for the shell. This tech is not there yet but 3d printing has made huge advancements in the last few years. There is also possible alternative of using Bigelow Aerospaces’ expandable modules to construct a base.

The last point is there have been large advances in space mining tech. There are growing numbers of companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries that are researching and advancing space mining. The initial target being volatiles (water specifically) because it is essential for life and is heavy to get out of Earths orbit.

There are very compelling reasons why to go to the moon as our next stop. Will it be by 2030? Maybe not, but with the rate the space tech is advancing I think this date would not be far off the mark.

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