Gingrich Wants Moon Base by 2020, Mars Colony, New Propulsion, Prizes-UPDATE
UPDATE: C-Span.org has posted a video of Gingrich's remarks, which begin at 1:56 into the recording.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich delivered a speech on Wednesday in Cocoa, FL about his plans for the space program. It laid out bold goals with an emphasis on using prizes to entice private investment in space activities.
He promised a permanent base on the Moon by the "end of my second term" as president, which would be 2020. He envisions commercial near-earth activiities including tourism, science, and manufacturing. By the end of 2020, he said, human trips to Mars could be accomplished using "continuous propulsion" that could make the trip in a "remarkably short time because I am sick of being told we have to be timid and ... we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old." He wants 10 percent of the NASA budget set aside for funding prizes that would spur private investment, specifically suggesting a $10 billion prize for sending people to Mars.
Gingrich cited Abraham Lincoln and the transcontinental railroad, the Wright Brothers and the development of airplanes, and John F. Kennedy and the Apollo program as models of what can be accomplished if people have the determination and vision to move forward.
Needling one of his opponents for the Republican nomination, Gingrich said that Mitt Romney had "made fun of me for having bold ideas" about the space program, but that his "weirdest" idea -- that Romney's team had yet to uncover -- is a "Northwest Ordinance for space." Gingrich said the idea is that once there are 13,000 Americans living on the Moon they could petition for statehood. He vowed to pursue the idea again if he is President as a "marker" that America wants a bold future.
Failure should be an option, in his view, telling a story of missile defense legend Gen. Bernie Schriever criticizing his successor for having 17 successful launches in a row because that meant he was not trying -- if he was trying he would be making mistakes.
The current situation where the United States must rely on Russia for sending people to the space station, and, in his view, China is surpassing us, is an "embarassment," he said.
Other than suggesting the use of prizes to encourage the private sector to invest in space, Gingrich did not address how such a program would be funded, especially his goal to establish a lunar base in eight years. He made no mention of international cooperation and, in fact, emphasized that the lunar base he wants by 2020 would be "American."
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