To keep its gaze focused on the stars, NASA has had to change up its game of late. Private corporations, rather than NASA itself, now resupply the International Space Station. Arguably, Mars One has just as good a chance as NASA does at establishing a permanent colony on Mars. Even the Moon, which has for so long been NASA's claim to fame, is now being offered up on a silver NASA-backed platter.
Someday, colonies could be established on the Moon, but what was once planned as a scientific outpost could now become something more in keeping with the colony established on Pandora in the movie Avatar. On the surface, the Moon looks like one big lump of regolith (or moon dust). But below that surface, we now know that there exist deposits of water, rare minerals, and other substances not so common here on Earth, like helium. In a new effort to establish a moon base where they can grow veggies and generally have a fun, sciencey time, NASA is willing to dole out the Moon's precious resources to the highest bidder.
Last year NASA partnered with Bigelow Aerospace in an effort to build tomorrow's moon bases. Currently, Bigelow Aerospace manufactures inflatable space modules, but that doesn't mean that future moon bases will be big bags of life-preserving air. NASA is offering up its facilities, lunar expertise, and robotics know-how in the pursuit of a colonized moon. It looks like, if humanity is to someday set up a colony on the Moon, we'll have to keep our financial feet planted firmly on Terra Firma as we reach for the stars. At least for now.