Gingrich’s Grandiose Plans for American Space Explorationn

Newt Gingrich gave his JFK-style speech in Florida today followed by a round table. As with Newt, it didn’t contain a single overriding goal (build a transcontinental railroad, land a man on the moon), but rather a series of grandiose goals. A summary, based on this video:

  • Invoked both Abraham Lincoln (railroads) and John F. Kennedy (moon program)
  • Proposed setting aside 10 percent of NASA’s budget for prizes
  • Promised to build a permanent lunar base on the moon by the end of his second term and it will be American (Jan. 20, 2021)
  • Proposed commercial near-Earth activity including tourism, manufacturing and science based on the model of the airline industry in the 1930s because he’s sick of being told we need to be timid and we need to use 50 year old technology
  • Wants the U.S. to gain so much experience in space that that Chinese and Russians will never be able to match
  • Pledged to set up a $10 billion tax free prize for devising a way to get to Mars on the cheap
  • Promised to fund the development of the first continuous propulsion system in space to enable short-duration trips to Mars
  • Proposed that the U.S. launch 5 to 8 rockets per day instead of 1 per daymore like airports
  • Change civil service laws to make NASA more like Boeing than….well, NASA.
  • Plans to introduce a “Northwest Ordinance” that would allow a lunar colony with 13,000 people to petition for statehood (What about statehood for DC first? It’s got like 600,000 people in it. Oh, right….not enough Republicans there. Oh man, this is going to REALLY going to piss off Washingtonians!)

Sounds great. What sort of budget would be required for all this was not explained.

  • Anonymous

    It’s difficult to place Newt, but one thing is for sure and that is that this is a once in a lifetime chance to put a genuine space advocate in the white house!

  • ALL “tech prizes” (excluding ONLY the SS1 suborbital X-prize) have failed their goals because they need MORE MONEY THA PRIZES OFFER to succeed

    ALSO the successful SS1 flights, has needed THREE TIMES the amount of the X-prize to succeed, thanks to Microsoft’s Paul Allen money ($10M) and others

    the “””Google””” Lunar X Prize [ ] has already FAILED its goals, since, 52 MONTHS AFTER its announcements, the X-teams STILL play with LEGO moonrovers and NO ONE of them has found the $60M to buy a Falcon-9 to launch a TRUE rover towards the Moon

    the, higher priced space-prizes hare destined to FAIL, since there are NO NOR companies that can/want to find/invest (e.g.) $20 billion to develop an Apollo-like lunar program, to win an X-prize in the range of $500M

    anyhow, with ENOUGH government funds given to NASA (and a total change in today’s wrong strategy) a lunar base within 2020 is possible

  • JohnHunt

    Let’s trim the fat and see what we can keep.

    10% of NASA’s budget for prizes? How about 10% of NASA’s budget for a “Lunar COTS”? That would be about the right amount, IMO.

    A permanent human base in 9 years? Well, if teleoperated robots prepare the ground and set up small lunar ice harvesting and water and O2 production and set up an inflatable habitat and cover it with end-to-end sandbags filled with regolith, then I could imagine the first humans arriving in a turn-key base which could end up being permanent.

    Commercial near-Earth activity such as tourism? Bigelow’s going to do it whether Gingrich says so or not. Nothing particularly new here.

    $10 billion tax free prize for devising a way to get to Mars on the cheap? Anyone can come up with a plan. Actually getting to Mars for $10 billion? If the Lunar COTS established a cis-lunar infrastructure first delivering lunar ice-derived propellant to LEO then maybe…maybe not.

    I’d say that his concepts are a starting point but needs negotiation.

  • Michael Turner

    “Even though Gingrich appears to support NASA, during the earlier rally, he also possibly indicated that he might cut NASA’s budget, saying he thinks NASA should become “lean and aggressive,” and less bureaucratic.”


  • Aubrey Olson

    @Michael Turner

    Starving NASA may be genuinely the only realistic way to get the SLS to be cancelled. It needs to happen if the agency is going to have any future.

  • JohnHunt

    A study showed that the COTS method of procurement cost the government only 1/3 of what it would have cost them if they have procured it the normal way. So, have a Depot COTS, Water Truck COTS, a Lunar Lander COTS, and lunar surface assets COTS and you could indeed achieve much more on less money. I agree that killing he SLS would probably be the single best thing that could happen to NASA because the enough money would be freed up for these COTS-like approaches.

  • Well, 10 percent of NASA’s budget set aside for prizes would be about $1.76 billion per year. That would be roughly what we’re spending on SLS. So, Gingrich would have to go up against his own party and also Democrats who support that program.

    Good luck with that…

    Or he could try to cut the science budget. Slashing global change research would certainly warm the hearts of conservatives. (Pun intended) It would also be counter to his earlier commercial with Nancy Pelosi about the need to urgently address that problem.

    Such inconsistencies have raised concerns about Gingrich’s erratic behavior. And, projecting forward, one wonders how much of this grandiose vision Gingrich would actually pursue if elected to office.

  • Corrector

    The only true free market candidate is Dr. Paul.

    It’s spelled “grandiose”.