The next step, now that we’ve had the robots do the rough preparations, and a succession of human crews fine-tune things at the outpost site, including testing prototypes of equipment meant to make human living more durable, the real purpose of sending people to the Moon begins. No longer content to merely live there because they can, and all activities focused on that one task of survival, real work will begin there. The Lunar outpost becomes an actual town! This full settlement phase is called Long Term Lunar Outpost (OPS.10)
Certainly, we’re not talking about marooning people on the Moon, we’ll continue sending sorties of crews to work there and bringing people back to Earth. The goal of this phase is to begin real exploration or the Moon by human crews, setting up research facilities, and of course growth of the Settlement over time. That growth means that there will be people who make a new life on the Moon as permanent residents. With that paradigm shift, humanity becomes a truly solar system race.
As more habitation and working facilities are delivered to the site, and the populations grows, more and more leisure to pursue science and commercial work will become the norm. Imagine that every few months a new hab module or a specialized working space is soft-landed on the Moon. Each of those deliveries would bring new crew, as well, and for a frenzied couple of weeks after each delivery mission a the entire crew team would busy themselves with integrating the new systems to the overall settlement. After that, the personnel would disperse to rest, and to focus on more stable duties pursuing the work they really came to the Moon to do. This cycle would repeat, though as growth continues, the urgency of involvement would become less and less an “all hands on deck” sort of effort, with now a dedicated team of integrators handing the new systems. Lunar life becomes more and more productive as a result.
What I’m really saying is that at some point, a natural stability will take over the life of the settlement, and growth moves from a disruptive event in the community to becoming a net positive. That day is something I long to see.