The National Geographic Channel is showing a not-to-be-missed program on returning to the moon, this time to stay.

Naked Science: Living on the Moon airs on Sunday, July 19 at 9:00 p.m. Pacific and Eastern time, the day before the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing by Apollo 11.

I got a review copy of the show, which is a well balanced treatment of what’s required for going back to the moon, setting up a permanent base, and eventually building a self-sustaining economy with a frontier settlement. As I expected, NASA gets top billing with its planned Constellation mission for returning astronauts to the moon some time in the next decade. But the show’s producers don’t treat NASA as the end-all-be-all for manned space flight, and herein lies its main strength.

Instead, the show acknowledges the past contributions of NASA, treats its current plans, and also points out that other nations such as India and China are in the running too, as well as private companies, setting the stage for an exciting next couple of decades in space.

Peter Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE that helped launch the private space race gets air time, as does Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation.

“Today there are twelve hundred billionaires on this planet,” says Diamandis. “And what it used to take a large government agency to do, a small group of dedicated individuals with the right computational capabilities can now do.”

With that, the show makes the case for not just going back to the moon, but that the profit motive makes it inevitable. Exceptional animations round out an inspiring program that should be required viewing for anyone who questions the value of continuing to reach beyond planet Earth.