Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, is the latest person to advocate for a NASA led return to the moon in the wake of the Chinese Chang’e 3 mission, according to a December 20, 2013 article in Red Orbit.
The main reason for establishing a NASA lunar base is that it provides the United States a strong say in what happens on the moon. This is important considering the interest in lunar resources expressed by China and other countries, not to mention a number of private companies.
The lunar base would also be a test bed for learning to not just visit other worlds, but to eventually live on them. The technologies involved in setting up and sustaining such a facility would be applicable, at least in McKay’s view, to Mars.
Also a great deal of science could be conducted from a lunar base, including lunar geology and geophysics and lunar based astronomy and Earth observation.
A lunar base could also become a support facility for commercial operations, including mining and tourism.
McKay suggests that real world analogies to a lunar base include Antarctic science facilities and the International Space Station.