Nice article on the future of lunar exploration on MSNBC. Lots of plans for robotic missions in the next 2-5 years. And a discussion of manned missions.
"I donít think you can conduct a human mission to Mars for less than a $100 billion in any time shorter than 10 years," (lunar scientist Paul) Spudis said. "The technology base will only marginally support a human Mars mission. Itís just a bridge too far. I contend that NASA doesnít have a politically viable mission."
What is workable is sending back astronauts to the moon, and doing it within 5 years. An initial mission could involve dispatching four people onto the lunar surface, and enabling them to stay for 45 days.
"In one fell swoop you exceed by an order of magnitude the total operational experience of Apollo," Spudis said. "We need to go back to understand how to use the resources on the moon."
There is also a poll... 22,500+ votes so far with 79% saying, "The scientific benefit alone makes it worth going back to the moon."