Gingrich Vows To Put 13,000 Men On The Moon

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Just this week, Newt told Florida voters that, if elected president, he would establish an American colony on the moon — and begin regular shuttle service to and from Mars — by 2020. At the same time, he says he’s prepared to declare war on Iran and Cuba. He’s offered no evidence of how much these new initiatives would cost, nor where the money would come from. Although, as a member of Congress, he did author the “Northwest Ordinance for Space,” allowing moon residents, once they numbered 13,000, to petition Congress to become our 51st state. MORE

SLATE: Newt Gingrich described himself as a visionary when he unveiled plans Wednesday to create a mammoth new space program, including a permanent colony on the moon within the next nine years. He also reiterated his plan to declare at least part of the moon as U.S. territory, with colonists capable of petitioning for statehood status. There is little doubt that Mr. Gingrich believes in big ideas. Unfortunately, however, there is a difference between big ideas and good ideas. After all, being a visionary doesn’t mean abandoning practicality altogether but rather harnessing it creatively to make new things happen. Put aside that Gingrich was speaking in Florida, the state most invested in space exploration and, by happenstance, the next up on the Republican primary schedule. Let’s consider cost first. The Apollo missions to the moon cost in excess of $100 billion in current dollars. In 2005, NASA administrator Michael Griffin estimated the cost of a program to land four astronauts on the moon by 2018 (as was then planned), at $104 billion. Now, four astronauts is not a permanent colony on the moon. To have a permanent colony, you would have to manufacture housing, most likely underground, or at least under significant shielding, since there is no atmosphere and no magnetic field to shield against the harmful effects of cosmic rays for an extended period. Not to mention the need to build facilities for waste recycling, plus food storage and preparation. That is, unless we continually provide food and other provisions for pilgrims from Earth, creating a non-self-sustaining colony. But Gingrich has already made it quite clear, in his attacks on President Obama, that he would not like to be remembered for championing any such sort of government-sponsored food program. So, to truly embark on such an endeavor within a decade, we would have to spend somewhere between a few hundred billion and a trillion dollars. MORE

THE HILL: There are good reasons to go to space, but a moon colony is not one. The Kennedy space program had its beginning in the German rocket program in World War II and in post-war imagination still fired on military systems and in the economic competition between American Keynesians and Russian Marxists. For more than a hundred years Anglo-American imagination preceded us in space with Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, mavens of the pop culture in the rising populism of mass democracy. The pop culture space imagination ended in the mid-1990s with the rise of a new earth-based myth cycle seen in “Lost,” “Survivor” and “Avatar.” The rest of us have returned to earth, but Gingrich, like David Bowie’s Major Tom, remains lost in space. MORE



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