I've stood next to the Gemini and Apollo return craft several times at the Air and Space Museum in Washington (the worlds MOST VISITED BUILDING) and I shutter in awe each time I see the size of the beaker shaped return capsules. Each loaded with gauges and manometers, all reminiscent of circ 1940 left over hardware.
It was unimaginable to me that a man would willingly sit in such a form-fitting elbow-room sparse enclosures. These were brave souls, taking what a human can do to its limit and we celebrate their victory by permanently allowing the world to see what they came home in, most of the time landing in the oceans, often somewhere near the designated spot.
But I have read NASA's planned deep-space launches of the ISS (International Space Station) some time far in the future. A literal Noah's Ark of sorts, leaving for many many generations heading for parts of the galaxy that we now know have planets with similar placement (relative to their suns) as we do.
I guess it is important to PERFECT the landing and safe take offs from "other surfaces" so the moon makes for a good practice field for manned "touch and goes" beyond the terraform of it.
I agree that there are many other laces where we can search for primitive or more advanced life in our own solar system, but so far it seems to be on moons, not planets.
The four states of matter (no hippies, it is not water, sky earth and wind) it is SOLID, LIQUID, GAS and PLASMA and it is the 3rd and 4th which MOST of our larger planets are made of: gas or/and plasma. The sun is in a plasmas state, sending huge threads of it into the magnetosphere and returning (most of the time) as if it is grounded out in giant half/oval loops, snapping back like rubber bands.
I'm looking forward to this upcoming sun-spot cycle (typically comes in 11 year cycles - remember EVERYTHING CYCLES!) well... this time, it is supposed to be a little late, stay a little longer and be nearly 50% more active - this really makes HAM RADIO fun and interesting ESPECIALLY in the higher parts of the HF (High-Frequency) band - just below and just above CB radio frequencies.
I'm readying myself for this 2 year cycle of high solar activity which opens and modifies the way radio signals move about the Earth. I remember in the late 70s and early 80s having daily chess games with Moscow, London and Johannesburg, South Africa on the the 10 meter ham band (28 MHZ band) often you couldn't see any motion on the signal strength meter, but you could hear them and they could hear you and that is all that mattered.
So where are we going with the next generation of space travel - to the moon, but also NASA TV is showing of the next generation of RADIATION PROTECTIVE SUITS which are multi jointed and should allow man to go beyond the radiation belts and still do EVA (space walk and outside repairs - actually External Vehicular Activity) but the important part is, they are working HARD on getting us protected from that radiation which currently is the BIGGEST THREAT TO MAN in near space.