As part of NASA's next push toward humanity's space-faring future, Skylab 2 could provide us with a foothold in deep space. And it's closer to becoming reality than you might think.
Skylab 2, the planned successor to NASA's original space station, would sit beyond the moon. In a place called "Earth-moon Lagrange point 2," a gravity-stable point in space. From there, NASA envisions astronauts launching manned missions deeper into space — to places like asteroids, Mars and Phobos.
Skylab 2 would take advantage of the new Space Launch System (SLS), the world's-largest rocket currently in development, meant to propel astronauts as far as Mars all on its own. (That means it has a bit of extra capacity when only headed to the far side of the moon.)
NASA plans to fill most of the SLS with the main module of Skylab 2. The module will occupy the equivalent space of a two-story house, which is much larger than the original Skylab. Theoretically, with that amount of space, a crew of four could be supplied for months at a time, without the need for regular resupply missions from Earth.
The infrastructure of such a space station, its bones if you will, are already tried, tested and have proven themselves space-worthy. While outfitting the innards of the new space station may take some time, a future populated by manned stations across the solar system is one well worth the wait.