Ever since astronauts last set foot on the Moon in 1972, the world has been waiting for a grand vision of humanity’s next foray deep into space. Our visits have been restricted to the space stations barely 400 kilometres above the Earth’s surface and, burdened with the spiralling costs of the International Space Station, NASA has kept silent about the future. But now it has become clear that the agency never stopped dreaming of sending people into the unknown. Last week, without fanfare or any grand announcement, it quietly unveiled its blueprint for the future. It calls for a space station close to the Moon that will ultimately serve as a gateway for missions all over the Solar System.