I think one of the first big steps to building a permanent base on the Moon or Mars was taken recently.http://www.esa.int/O...ith_3D_printing
The reason I see this as such a big change is that it provides a way to make almost the entire mass of the base from material on hand. The plan I have heard would also be done with robotic or remotely operated equipment. What that means is humans do need to land until the base is complete or at least nearly so.
I want to know what others think will be important to making permanent habitation off the earth possible. Getting there is not the issue, it has be shown to be possible. What are currently the best ideas for power, food, air, space suits? What do you think needs the most development before this is a reality? What do you think will be the main purpose of a permanent base on the Moon/Mars and how will they do it?