The Gingrich Who Stole The News Cycle

By Phil Plait | January 27, 2012 11:38 am

Because I was on the road Wednesday night, I missed the first few hours of reaction to Newt Gingrich’s speech in Florida, when he said he wants to have a permanent station on the Moon "by the end of my second term". It wasn’t until Thursday morning that I opened up my web browser and saw that every blog, every news site, everyone, was talking about it. I must have had dozens of tweets and emails telling me about it and asking my opinion.

So I found a video of the speech and watched it. The only reason I didn’t laugh out loud at the nonsense unfolding from Mr. Gingrich’s mouth was that I already had seen the reaction online.

In Discover Magazine’s Crux blog I wrote a dissection of his speech and why he’s so vastly and profoundly wrong: The Newt-onian Mechanics of Building a Permanent Moon Base. You’ll get all the details there of why I think Gingrich’s plan is the worst possible way to go about trying to go to the Moon: in a hurry, with the wrong source of funding, and maybe because there’s a threat from those dirty communists.

Don’t get me wrong: I want a Moon base. I’ve written about that many times here on the blog, and for my Geek-A-Week card I asked Len Peralta to draw me as Commander Koenig from "Space:1999", for criminy’s sake. I stand second to no one in advocating exploring space, and our own satellite in particular. But it has to be done right, and Gingrich’s plan would be the worst way to do it.

In the post for The Crux I was blunt, but held back my tongue a bit because that isn’t necessarily the venue for me to do otherwise. But here, on my blog, I’ll say this: Gingrich’s words were both transparent and hollow. I knew right away what he was claiming was simply not possible, either financially, technologically, or politically. Take your pick. And it was also clear to me that no matter how you slice it, NASA would get screwed royally if his Moon base plan were implemented, since it would mean billions of dollars moved away from NASA projects to finance this. I started digging deeper to see if my first reaction was wrong, and all I found showed I was righter than I first thought. Every way you try to do it, his plan would destroy NASA. And I’m not exaggerating; the amount of money we’re talking about taking away from NASA projects to fund a base his way would leave everything else in NASA facing cancellation. It’s really that simple.

I was actually pretty stunned that people in Florida would support this idea. Obviously, they would have a vested interest in hearing big ideas about space exploration, but with just a little thought it’s clear that while Gingrich’s idea may be big, it’s only because it’s been stretched out way larger than it can handle. Its density is zero.

On the surface, it seems like Gingrich is a friend of space and science, but don’t be fooled: he’s just as likely to pander to the antiscience base as any other candidate, and his history shows he will attack science when he gets the chance. So while you might be inclined to like the idea of a candidate talking about promoting space exploration under any circumstances, have a care. Because once you get beneath that surface, you might find there’s nothing there.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore, caption added by me.


Related posts:

The Newt-onian Mechanics of Building a Permanent Moon Base
Erasing false balance: the right is more antiscience than the left
The increasingly antiscience Republican candidates
Help restore science to its rightful place

Comments (143)

  1. uudale

    When I heard him mention the year 2020, I gave it no further serious attention and figured he was pretty much pandering to Floridians. The time frame is unrealistic for many reasons.

  2. The Raptor

    Why does it feel like he is proposing this with the intent for it to fail so that he can justify killing off NASA completely?

  3. I was actually pretty stunned that people in Florida would support this idea.

    My guess is that they assume that this would mean billions of additional dollars for NASA, rather than taking it by killing everything else.

  4. ragnar

    Interesting that you bag on his plan yet present no competing plan in its place.

    How would you do it?

  5. Jason Perry

    The problem is that NASA is screwed if new projects aren’t developed. At the end of the day, there will be dwindling support in Congress for science in the NASA budget if manned programs don’t continue…

  6. chief

    Somehow I can’t picture him as JFK on he same issue wanting the goal by decades end.

    Reading Phil’s post must mean that the funds are to stay the same and move all resources to the new goal of the moon. Screw everything else.

    Imagine, landing on mars and just gathering rust, fly to pluto and ignore the sights and turning 180 degrees again on the JWST funding.

    I’m going to bury my head in the sand for the next 11 months or so till this fluff south ends.

  7. John

    @ragnar

    “Interesting that you bag on his plan yet present no competing plan in its place.
    How would you do it?”

    Why does pointing out that a plan is obviously (to anyone who knows what they’re talking about) impossible automatically require the submission of an opposing plan?

  8. Wzrd1

    @#4, ragnar, there IS no competing plan.
    First, the cost would be at LEAST $35 billion to build a base there, according to some estimates that have been worked up. THEN, $7.5 billion PER YEAR of operation.
    Meanwhile, he runs his mouth about cutting the budget further, yet pulling that money out of thin air.
    Frankly, I doubt we could even manage it with $50 billion! Now, if a clear, national emergency need were to arise, 50% of the federal budget could be applied and a basic base set up.
    But, hanged if I could find any emergency that would require a moon base. ESPECIALLY as it’d have zero renewable resources, such as food, O2 scrubbers and water. Hence, the support costs. And frankly, rushing it spells out a few disasters along the way.

  9. Brett

    He is, Uudale, but 2020 is still closer than what we’re getting from the Obama Administration. They pushed any serious manned program off into the 2020s, which is even more blatant “do-nothing” politicking than usual. At least a program aimed for 2020 might get some work done before the next Administration comes into office and cancels it.

  10. NewEnglandBob

    Make no mistake that as a member of that clown college, known as the Republican party, there has been not one single idea worth looking at in years. Gingrich is another of the flip-flopping whores who tries to support whatever piece of nonsense he thinks will win him votes. Romney does the same thing. Santorum wants everyone to stop supporting colleges and Ron Paul is an anarchist and anti-American racist and bigot. The entire crew should be flushed from the public sphere by laughter and ridicule.

  11. Phillip Lozano

    What’s so strange is that the mass media takes Newt’s racial politics seriously while declaring the idea of a moon colony a lunatic fantasy, when history has clearly demonstrated that we are a lot more successful at getting people and equipment to the moon than at shedding institutional racism.

  12. @#10 NewEnglandBob: Make no mistake that as a member of that clown college, known as the Republican party, there has been not one single idea worth looking at in years. Gingrich is another of the flip-flopping whores who tries to support whatever piece of nonsense he thinks will win him votes. Romney does the same thing. Santorum wants everyone to stop supporting colleges and Ron Paul is an anarchist and anti-American racist and bigot. The entire crew should be flushed from the public sphere by laughter and ridicule.

    This! And I’m not a knee-jerk Republican-basher, but fer Jebuz sake! Even if you’re a staunch Republican, if you’re honest, you just have to admit that none of the candidates is qualified to fetch the President’s coffee, let alone take the office.

    I particularly liked what D.L. Hughley said in a recent interview:

    “Newt Gingrich is the kind of man,” said Hughley, “who will lie when the truth will do.” He then circled back to Gingrich’s characterization of questions about his affair and marriage as “despicable:”

    “When a man would leave a woman — the mother of his children — when she is struggling with a life-threatening disease, then he has forfeited the right forever to say the word “despicable.”

    To say nothing of grandstanding against adultery (the Clinton-Lewinsky thing) while simultaneously cheating on your own wife. Then divorcing her for your mistress. Then cheating on HER and divorcing her for the mistress yet again. How this guy has avoided being tarred and feathered by the “values voter” contingent that the Republicans are supposedly trying to appeal to is freaking beyond me.
    And that’s not even touching the race-baiting and dog-whistle nonsense. And that’s just Gingrich. I can go on all day like this about the others. At least Perry had the good sense to drop out when it became clear what an ignoramus he was.

  13. uudale

    @Brett #9:

    You might have a point, but I wasn’t making a comparison of Gingrich space policy vs. Obama space policy. I was weighing the 2020 thing on its own merits, which seem unrealistic.

    I’m not saying, however, something couldn’t be started and implemented even if an arbitrary deadline (in this case, Gingrich’s 2020) couldn’t be reached.

  14. Honestly, I think it’s a moot point. If Gingrich becomes president, I’m going to volunteer to take the first rocket up. I won’t even care if they don’t have a plan to get me back. Hell, I won’t care if it explodes on the pad, at that point.

    Ok, ok, I think my disgust with the guy (and the rest of the Republican candidates) is pretty clear to everyone. I’ll try to shut up about it now. On the topic at hand:
    What I’d like to see is a project for an un-crewed moon base. Including an inflatable habitat, mining equipment to test in-situ resource utilization, and a couple of robots to run the thing. Historically, the most expensive part of human spaceflight has been the human element – you need much higher safety standards and margins of error, emergency contingency plans, and loads of consumables. We could learn a lot about what it’ll take to colonize the moon by sending robots up first (and before anyone tells me that this is blindingly freaking obvious and what we’ve been doing all along, no, we’ve been sending robots for exploration, not to investigate colonization challenges and techniques).

  15. amphiox

    A little off topic, but he hasn’t even secured a nomination and he’s talking about a SECOND term? The arrogance and sense of entitlement just drips here, odiously foul.

  16. Astrogarden

    So, it is news when a politician panders to a specific audience?

    I am aghast! This never happens! Not in OUR country!

    They all do it – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, you name it.
    Even the Nazis did it in 30’s Germany as did THEIR opponents.

    Means exactly zero from any source.

    Move along, nothing to see here….

  17. Infinite123Lifer

    “The Newt-onian Mechanics” (emphasis)

    Not funny Phil.

    Please don’t do that again. :(

  18. He said that the end of his 8 years in presidency, meaning that he is talking about 2021, he would have a moon base. Yeah right…
    Also he has been mentioned before that he would like to mine the moon of his resources, specially a helium isotope for nuclear fusion and thorium for nuclear fission. Well first of all there is no nuclear fusion plants, and won’t be here for like a century. And second, why would we want to mine things from the moon and bring them back to Earth? It’s ludicrous.
    Later on that speech he talks about making moon land a state if the base reaches more than 30k inhabitants. Again… ludicrous. What he’s he doing now? Trying to politicize the moon?

  19. Ok one more thing – did anyone see the last debate where Santorum called climate change a “hoax” and no one called him on it? Wolf Blitzer (moderating) really disappointed me. I thought he was better than that. Ahem. Ok, I’m done. Grrr.

  20. amphiox

    Why are the so-called “values voters” not disdaining Gingrich? Because they are all hypocrites too. Their self-professed “values” are just a front for the only value they care about – hatred of Obama, and an almost religious need to seem him bloodied. (Not just beaten, Romney has a better chance of winning but Romney’s too polite and civilized.)

  21. @17 Gonçalo Aguiar Says: And second, why would we want to mine things from the moon and bring them back to Earth? It’s ludicrous.

    Well, if we had the fusion plants that could utilize He-3, and if we could build solar-powered mass-drivers and self-maintaining robotic infrastructure to mine it, it might just be plausible, years down the road. Helium is pretty light :D
    But yeah, if wishes were horses…

  22. amphiox

    re @17;
    He wants to re-fight the Civil War, of course. Because sooner or later, a moon colony of sufficient size (and any and all other space colonies too) will want self- determination and independence from earth.

  23. Anyone remember NOSBOIS? What we need now is a NOSARM (National Organization to Send Anti-science Republicans to the Moon).

  24. uudale

    @Astrogarden #15:

    Godwin!
    :-)

  25. @21 amphiox: He wants to re-fight the Civil War, of course. Because sooner or later, a moon colony of sufficient size (and any and all other space colonies too) will want self- determination and independence from earth.

    The ironic part is that if there were a successful, populous moon colony, they’d almost certainly vote Democrat if they were dependent on Earth for any resources. And if they were capable of self-sufficiency, would want to be independent and want nothing whatsoever to do with American politics.

  26. I figured Newt’s Moon Base would have one of three outcomes (assuming he was elected President):

    1) He does nothing about it. Perhaps he’d trot it out on the re-election campaign trail, but that would be the extent of the “work” that would get done on it.
    2) He would gut NASA, give the money to private industry, and declare that the Moon base was in their hands.
    3) He would tell NASA to cancel every other project they are working on (no matter the scientific value) to get this Moon base thing done.

    Oddly enough, the “do nothing” scenario is the best of the three and I, like Phil, would love to see a permanent Moon base.

    Of course, given that we haven’t landed a human on the Moon in nearly 40 years, perhaps we should aim for putting a human back on the Moon first. Once we can do this repeatedly, *then* we can plan a permanent base.

  27. Steve

    And if Newt goes to Oak Ridge, is he gonna preach on the need for nuclear reactors every 1oo miles? Or talk about building a 700 passenger airplane when in a Boeing plant?
    Why doesn’t he just admit the auto bailout worked in a GM plant????

  28. Calli Arcale

    I like hearing a candidate talk with praise for the space program, to recognize the *need* and *value* for it.

    I don’t like knowing the candidate is obviously blowing smoke. Newt’s too experienced in American politics to seriously think this is even achievable in the current political climate, never mind the technical challenges. Just as with the hypocrisy charge, he’s counting on most Americans being too stupid to realize he has no intention of making this real.

  29. Another problem is that doing what Newt suggests would violate several treaties and UN resolutions.

    Primarily: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

    I agree that he has no intention on following up on this “promise”, assuming that he would ever get elected.

  30. Marty

    @ragnar – I know it’s been said already, but it deserves repeating: You don’t need to propose an alternative idea to point out how bad this one is. We’re not talking about ways to solve a national crisis – we’re talking about a hypothetical moon base.

  31. @ragnar

    Just because someone has a retarded idea doesn’t mean you have to come up with a better retarded idea.

  32. John Pold

    The decision to go to the moon by John F Kennedy in 1961 was judged crazy, unrealistic by far more people than the people disapproving Gingrich’s plan: removing layers of bureaucracy at NASA, setting a clear dated goal = year 2020, having funds and benefiting private sector and citizens (adult, kids) highly motivated by such inspirational goal will help this country moving forward again.

    I don’t want my grand kids staying a Chinese moon hotel …
    I want my grand kids staying a Hilton moon hotel …

    Gingrich you have my vote

  33. He may well be unrealistic, but consider, while in the ’60’s it took NASA only 9 years to get to the Moon, NASA now couldn’t do it inside 30 years, and 30 years would make a lunar landing or base a political nonstarter. So in advocating using commercial space to get to the Moon, Newt is being more realistic than anyone advocating NASA doing it in any time frame whatsoever.

  34. On the other hand, Robert Zubrin makes a good case that there’s no reason dicking around with the moon when we could send humans to Mars. There are far more resources there (subsurface ice, an atmosphere that can be processed to produce oxygen, etc) than on the moon, and because of its atmosphere you don’t have some of the problems you do on the moon with sharp dust grains and micrometeors. Zubrin is about as gung-ho on human space colonization as anyone you’ll ever find, and he thinks sending people back to the moon is a waste of money.

    @32 Andrew: He may well be unrealistic, but consider, while in the ’60′s it took NASA only 9 years to get to the Moon, NASA now couldn’t do it inside 30 years,

    I disagree. If NASA’s budget were about six times its current size (as it was during the Apollo program), they could get to the moon easily. The big question is why. We’ve already gone there, so this time there’d better be a better reason than “because it is hard.”

  35. I disagree. If NASA’s budget were about six times its current size…

    So how realistic is that?

  36. Ken

    Brett @9: 2020 is still closer than what we’re getting from the Obama Administration.

    So I could get your vote by promising a moon base by 2013?

    The point being, of course Newt’s number is less that the administration’s – as Phil says, Newt is not hampered by reality. Going with either plan means not getting a moon base by 2020, so maybe it would be good to look at what the two approaches could actually accomplish?

  37. Special One

    There’s no reason to dick around with gravity wells at all. I mean, other than our own.

    Screw the moon. Screw Mars. Asteroids bitches!

  38. chief

    Everyone’s missing the point. Newt wants to extend his term as leader of the people by being the leader on the moons new colony. After 8 years in office he will take control of “his” colony and everyone knows that you live longer on the moon and with their declared independence and the term of president there be for life, well…

    But it did occur to me that NASA could build everything for the moon, set off in 2020 and somehow miss the moon and establish on Mars….. The powers that be don’t know enough to question one from the other.

  39. NewEnglandBob

    @20. amphiox:

    Romney has a better chance of winning but Romney’s too polite and civilized.)

    Civilized? The man put his dog in a cage on TOP of the car for a trip. The man bought companies and then fired workers to sell it at a profit. The man balanced the Massachusetts budget by taking money away from cities and towns so they had to fire police, fire, teachers. Civilized? Not by my definition.

  40. Jason Perry

    @29 Erik: That’s if you declare the Moon a state. However, one way to get around that would be declare sovereignty over any bases built by the United States. The “State of the Moon” would then only consist of the bases themselves.

  41. Megan

    A few things that he clarified in the debate last night (don’t get me wrong- i think this is guano crazy):
    1) He sees the moon base as the place we would send all our folks off to Mars from. So this is ultimately about Mars.
    2) He wants the US Gov’t to give prizes and have the private sector do all the work. What he didn’t say was how much money in prizes? Does he reallocate the entire NASA budget to create these prizes, or does NASA get to continue doing what’s left of the basic research it’s doing now? I’d love some insight from you all – I have no idea how big the NASA budget is, or what kind of X-Prize you’d need to convince someone to build a launchpad and rocket.

  42. Chris

    @40 Jason Perry
    Until the moon colony declares independence.

  43. @35 Andrew W: So how realistic is that?
    Heh. Sadly, not very. But that wasn’t the point. I was just saying that NASA’s inability to send people to the moon isn’t due to an increase in bureaucracy or a decrease in competence; it’s a funding issue.

    @37 Special One: Asteroids, bitches!
    I want this on a T-shirt.

    @38 Chief: Everyone’s missing the point. Newt wants to extend his term as leader of the people by being the leader on the moons new colony. After 8 years in office he will take control of “his” colony and everyone knows that you live longer on the moon and with their declared independence and the term of president there be for life, well…

    Pfft. We all know that it’s Al Gore who has ridden the mighty Moon Worm.

  44. amphiox

    @39;

    “Too civilized” is a relative term. (That’s what that first modifier is there for.)

  45. BJN

    Oh, there’s something there below the surface, all right. It’s Cthulhu just waiting to split open the pallid skin of it’s Newt body suit.

  46. amphiox

    The cost to mass ratio of getting stuff up and down Earth’s gravity well means that, barring a breakthrough like a space elevator, mining anything of substance in space, be it from the moon or elsewhere, will never be cost effective or competitive with Earth based alternatives, unless those mined resources are actually processed and used in space – this if course requires that there already be established infrastructure in space.

    Mining of resources will not be the impetus that gets us that first step off earth into space, it’s going to be the thing that let’s us stay in space and expand through it, but it is not going to be the thing that gets us launched.

    Unless we actually run out completely of a resource on earth and cannot find a functional alternative (though in this case, collapse or even extinction is far more likely than successfully jumpstarting space colonization in the setting of a resource crisis.)

  47. Fry-kun

    A little off-topic, but today is the last day for your astronaut candidate applications, everyone!

  48. Zzarchov

    Ok, now I don’t like the guy. I hate him and what he stands for as a human being.

    However, feasibility wise. This isn’t nuts if it were an ACTUAL priority. People are talking about how it would be “$75 billion” and “7.5 billion a month to maintain”.

    And? It seems like the moon would be one of the cheapest places to occupy compared to the competing “rational” plans to start a war with Iran favoured by all non-Ron Paul candidates (including the current president). Compare the two costs, annexing the moon and making it an American state are cheaper.

    Not only that, once you get a few thousand people up there..it becomes too expensive to take them back down and next thing you know you’ve got a moon city bleeding America dry.

    Still cheaper than invading the entire middle east though, and no one says that is impossible. Just need a will.

  49. Seabear70

    I watched the video, and he was rather vague.

    The only technology mentioned is the Continuous propulsion system.

    But what I find amazing is that he thinks it can be done.

    If I were to consider most of the people posting here and the author experts in how to live life and set goals, I’d slash my throat with a broken whiskey bottle before I got out of bed.

    You people are pathetic.

    Some of you actually want this, and you have to know that it will NEVER happen with Obama leading us, but you are so emotionally invested in him that you will throw away your dreams to be able to call yourselves liberals.

    You people should be ashamed of yourselves, but I don’t think your egos are strong enough to think about how wrong you are.

  50. Utakata

    @ Seabear70

    “The only technology mentioned is the Continuous propulsion system.”

    You mean this? O.O

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/perpetual-motion-machine/

  51. sorrykb

    To everyone questioning the costs of this bold endeavor, you clearly have too little imagination to realize its genius:
    Obviously, the moon base can be built more quickly AND at a substantial savings by replacing all the overpaid big-government so-called “scientists” with inner-city school-children who need to learn a work ethic.
    Geez… bunch of sheeple…

  52. Derek

    Stop it, Phil!

    From here until the election, only say nice things about Gingrich. He needs to win the Republican nomination so he can be laughed out of the race when he faces down Obama.

  53. Steve Morrison

    I’d think that annexing a Lunar colony would run afoul of the Outer Space Treaty anyhow.

  54. Phil, I’m really disappointed in you on this one. No, I’m no Gingrich fan, but I am surprised to hear you dismiss this with the typical “Oh no! We can’t do that!”

    It could be done and I have no doubt we could do it if we half wanted to.

    The problem is that NASA has fallen into a pathetic pattern:

    1. Propose system or rocket
    2. Lots of artists renditions, some fancy logos
    3. A few years of development, several billion dollars
    4. Canceled
    5. Mockups and test items end up sold as surplus for pennies on the dollar
    6. Propose a new project that will never be completed and the cycle begins a new.

    It’s bull. I’m so surprised you think this is how it has to be. Yeah, the Ares-X, the Shuttle-C, Magnum HLV, DC-X, NASP, Venturestar, Crew Return Vehicle, Space Station Freedom, X-43, Ares-1 etc etc.. That’s all nasa does is come up with new plans and never see them to completion.

    If we would just actually commit to do something and actually, seriously, really do it, actually see it to completion, like we once did, there’s no reason we could not build a base on the moon in a few years.

    What do we need? A heavy lift launch system to send it into space? A few Falcon-9 Heavy rockets would work. They’ve already tested the core of it as the Falcon-9. What else? An earth departure stage? How about a centaur upper stage or a J-2 based stage.

    Getting humans there would need a faster TLI and thus might need a bigger rocket or a multi-launch.

    Still, nothing there we don’t have or could not build in a few years.

    What exactly is your point? That the US is incapable of making a lunar lander that can take up some pre-fabbed pressurized modules in a few years? Really going to sell us that short?

    The problems:

    Fiscally: Nope. Just spend money on something that actually advances humanity and stop bailing out banks and giving tax cuts to the rich.
    Technically: Well, no problem there, really
    Politically: Sure, if you continue to insist on voting for politicians with no vision or ambition and accept the status quo, then that wouldn’t get you very far, now would it.

  55. Jacobus

    Substantive or not this is the first time in my memory that anyone has brought up the subject of space colonization …wait…SPACE COLINIZATION!! into a presidential debate. I can understand the cynicism expressed by Dr. Plait. and others on this board and indeed anything said on a campaign trail should be taken with a grain of salt. But listening to the speech of the former speaker and his continual and forceful defense of this position during the debates from Gov. Romney and others I cannot claim to be emotionally unstirred by this development in the campaign of 2012.

    Respectfully
    Jake Peterson

  56. Walter Merino

    Next promises will be: affordable time travel, organic teletransportation and green warp speed!

  57. Not at all a fan of Newt but that was the best speech and idea from Gingrich that I’ve ever seen. (Youtube clip of it is linked to my name here – excellently put in my view.)

    When it comes to space exploration and space science I’ve long considered the Republican party – for all its other anti-science issues (Cough, *Climate contrianism*, cough, *creationism*, cough) – to be Astronomical Units ahead.

    Obama’s dismissive line about us “not needing to go to the Moon because we’ve already been there” lost him any respect I had for him before and had me seeing red.

    We haven’t been to the Moon. Not us. Not in my lifetime. Not to all but a few tiny scattered spots all on the one side. Only twelve men a couple of generations ago. There is still so much to learn and achieve and create there.

    No fan of either politician here but at least Newt Gingrich is promoting a positive, bold vision for space which is far more than Barack Hussein Obama has ever done. Obama’s watch has seen NASA decline massively and lose many capabilties and long with its way. No, none of the US presidents since JFK has been that great human space~wise but Obama would have to be worst so far in my view.

    Gingrich’s speech wasn’t quite up to JFK standards – & his words would need to be backed up by serious, serious funding increases for NASA amongst other actions – but, by Jove, it was a lot better than anything else that’s been offered for far too long a time.

    The Apollo Moon landings, IMHON, were the best things that the United States of America – Humanity full stop even – has ever managed to accomplish. The failure to follow up and keep going after taking that one small step has been horrendously disappointing, pathetic and feeble. 1969 we landed on the Moon folks, who back then would have thought by now we’d have done nothing more? Gone no further, done no better. Would be so hopeless today?

    If I was American, (which I’m not) I’d now be awfully tempted to hold my nose and vote for Newt based purely on this one speech and bold idea because in this single specific respect at least Newt Gingrich is a lot more pro-science and pro- future than anyone else running in 2012. I hope Romney and Obama come up with something better but I doubt they will.

  58. Elmar_M

    I still liked him better than Romney whos advisors are the same clowns that gave us Constellation and “Apollo on Steroids”. I dont think that this moonbase idea would work either. I do believe though that companies like SpaceX would probably be able to do a moonbase faster and for less money than NASA would. Not before 2020 though. No chance (and I am a big, huge SpaceX fan).

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    On the surface, it seems like Gingrich is a friend of space and science, but don’t be fooled:

    Like many people – incl. me back then – were and some still are fooled by Obama? :-(

    Yes, I do have big doubts over whether Newt’s words would actually lead to the Lunar base that he suggested.

    OTOH, at least Gingrich is putting forward a bold advancing plan for space exploration which makes him far superior in my estimation to the others – incl. Obama – running for POTUS in 2012. Obama isn’t even talking about NASA doing anything bold or advancing much in human spaceflight. Nor is Romney or Santorum or Ron Paul, not that I’ve heard. :-(

    he’s just as likely to pander to the antiscience base as any other candidate, and his history shows he will attack science when he gets the chance.

    Science isn’t monolithic. Gingrich like most of the Republicans & for that matter most of the Democratic party is pro-some science, anti-other science. Opposing evolution is a terrible anti-science thing – but so too is opposing future manned spaceflight programs which Obama has done. No Political party is always right or all good. Each election is a choice between lesser evils. Some areas of science the Republicans are dreadful – Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating is one as is teaching creationism. However, in other areas – military science, space exploration and developing medicines the Republicans are much better than the Democratic party is. No political team is all good or all bad here and Science covers a gargantuan amount of ground.

    So its a trade-off as ever. Do you prioritise space exploration or acting on HIRGO? Will Obama even act on HIRGO or just mouth the words without taking any concrete action?* Will Gingrich really fund and help NASA as promised or is he just mothing words?

    So while you might be inclined to like the idea of a candidate talking about promoting space exploration under any circumstances, have a care. Because once you get beneath that surface, you might find there’s nothing there.

    Just like with Obama for instance? What Barack offered versus what y’all actually got from him. Are any folks really happy there? All that rhetorical “Yes, we can!” & “Hope & change”** stuff. Where’d that go? :-(

    ———————————————————————-

    * HIRGO~wise it seems more like the latter really – and, yes, I know Congress, , yadda yadda. But folks, Obama is the President – the buck stops with him. If he cares enough he either finds a way to make it happen – whatever that is or he doesn’t and fails and proves himself incapable of actually being the president.

    ** Surely the most meaningless, stupid, content-free slogans in all US political history really. Yes we can *what?* Wreck the economy, retire the Space Shuttles and cancel the Bush plan for future human Moon landings? Hope for *what?*Hope for a time machine to go back and vote Hiliary Clinton in instead? Change what? For what – worse instead of better?

  60. Brian Too

    I still say that an expensive manned space venture anywhere is not a priority in a time of fiscal crisis. NASA is doing pretty well with their robotic missions and they are much cheaper. Keep that ball rolling for a while. The planet finder missions are crazy successful and so deserve funding as well.

    The Repubs are in a bind it seems to me. Their most electable candidate is merely tolerated by most within the party. The rest have (other) giant flaws.

    As an entirely academic matter, I find Ron Paul the most interesting. He is willing to tell his party what he believes and the consequences of those beliefs even if they don’t like it. I can see why he inspires devoted followers. Of course he’s unelectable except in the most outlandish circumstances.

  61. Messier Tidy Upper

    @54. Steve Packard – January 27th, 2012 at 7:02 pm :

    Phil, I’m really disappointed in you on this one. No, I’m no Gingrich fan, but I am surprised to hear you dismiss this with the typical “Oh no! We can’t do that!”
    It could be done and I have no doubt we could do it if we half wanted to. The problem is that NASA has fallen into a pathetic pattern:
    1. Propose system or rocket
    2. Lots of artists renditions, some fancy logos
    3. A few years of development, several billion dollars
    4. Canceled
    5. Mockups and test items end up sold as surplus for pennies on the dollar
    6. Propose a new project that will never be completed and the cycle begins a new.
    It’s bull. I’m so surprised you think this is how it has to be. Yeah, the Ares-X, the Shuttle-C, Magnum HLV, DC-X, NASP, Venturestar, Crew Return Vehicle, Space Station Freedom, X-43, Ares-1 etc etc.. That’s all nasa does is come up with new plans and never see them to completion.

    Quoted for Truth. Seconded by me. It is so flippin’ infuriating and frustrating and ridiculous. There should be a new rule no. 1 at NASA in my view – Pick a plan and then durn well stick to it. Build it, get it flying and working and only then move onto the next thing. Whilst still flying & improving the first one as well.

    I’d also want rule 2 to be a “no-gaps” policy” a spacecraft for human flight flies until its successor is immediately ready to take over. America should always have its own national rockets ready tofly its own crew wherever they can.

    Rule 3? NASA gets enough money. If that means scrapping Pakistan’s aid money or scrapping bank bail-outs or halving the pay & perks Congresscritters get or whatever else, so be it. NASA has to be a higher priority than it currently is because it’s the best thing America does. In my view anyhow. The money is spent on Earth, is an investment in future technology and advances US goals diplomatically too. Yes, money needs to be cut from a lot of things in the US federal budget – but NOT NASA.

    ****

    A trio of relevant quotes here :

    “If we privatise NASA our current pursuit of scientific knowledge would be quickly abandoned in favour of profitable ventures. True space science would die in a heartbeat. Why would private companies bother studying the origins of our universe when it would cost them billions and show no financial return? They wouldn’t. The throngs of entrepreneurs rushing into space will NOT be rocket scientists. They will be entrepreneurs with deep pockets and shallow minds. No NASA means complete anarchy in space.”

    – Page 204-205, ‘Deception Point’, (puzzle / thriller / Sf novel) Dan Brown, Corgi Books, 2001.

    “We had our hands on spaceships and we learned how to make them increasingly safer and then Washington pulled the plug. … We won’t have the ability to put an American on the space station, in an American rocket, for at least a decade,” he says. He doesn’t hide his disappointment with President Barack Obama. “We all knew for years that the Shuttle program had a sunset but Constellation was supposed to provide human access to the space station. When Obama cancelled Constellation, he cancelled the pride that every American should have in our accomplishments. One half of one percent of the federal budget funds NASA and they can’t afford this program?”
    – Gregory Cecil, Space Shuttle tile technician quoted on page 47, “Throttle down” article in ‘Air & Space’ magazine, Nov 2010.

    ““I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.”
    – Stephen Hawking, 8th January 2007 – interviewed before taking a zero-gravity flight.

    For y’all.

  62. Messier Tidy Upper

    @48. Zzarchov :

    Ok, now I don’t like the guy. [Gingrich presumably – ed.] I hate him and what he stands for as a human being. However, feasibility wise. This isn’t nuts if it were an ACTUAL priority. People are talking about how it would be “$75 billion” and “7.5 billion a month to maintain”. And? It seems like the moon would be one of the cheapest places to occupy compared to the competing “rational” plans ..

    ^ This! Agreed completely. :-)

    If we could get to our Moon in the late 1960’s we can certainly repeat the feat now – if we just get off our backsides and seriously put the effortand money in to do it. The failure to return to the Moon is a political and cultural failure not a scientific one. A failure Obama has been a part of and contributed to.

    Newt Gingrich is a nasty human being. A cynical, horrible politican. But on this topic Newt is correct and his political opponents are wrong. Full stop. I wish things were otherwise
    on both counts but they ain’t.

    .. to start a war with Iran favoured by all non-Ron Paul candidates (including the current president).

    Problem here is that Iran clearly wants to start a war with us. :-(

    In fact, we’re effectively pretty much already in one.

    It’s going a bit off-topic so I’ll try to keep this short : Taking out Iran is like having to take a huge and ever-growing pile of festering garbage to the tip and get rid of it. Its an unpleasant dirty chore that just has to be done and the sooner we get on with it and do it the better. Iran cannot be allowed nukes because the Iranian Jihadist dictatorship is crazy and unstable enough to actually use them.

    IOW, we don’t have any option. Not much of one anyhow.

    Compare the two costs, annexing the moon and making it an American state are cheaper. Not only that, once you get a few thousand people up there..it becomes too expensive to take them back down and next thing you know you’ve got a moon city bleeding America dry. Still cheaper than invading the entire middle east though, and no one says that is impossible. Just need a will.

    Well that last part there is spot on right. :-)

  63. Douglas Watts

    I was actually pretty stunned that people in Florida would support this idea.

    Ever drag a twenty dollar bill through a trailer park?

  64. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper (and Phil, and everyone else)

    Would it amaze you to know that, in 2010, Newt Gingrich ENDORSED Obama’s cancellation of Constellation?

  65. kat wagner

    I’m ready to order up a few of those “Asteroids Bitches” t-shirts. They ready yet?

    John Stewart on the Daily Show made pretty bad fun of Newt on his show, but I mentioned the moon colony thing to my husband and he went ballistic. He said don’t I know Newt was sucking up to the Space Coasters and doesn’t really mean it and blah dee blah. I would have been upset but our power was out for a day because of snow (sierra cement. a whole bunch of it) and my husband fell and cracked a rib so he’s going to be mad at the world for about a month. Sorry, no video.

  66. @ 64. Ferris Valyn : “Would it amaze you to know that, in 2010, Newt Gingrich ENDORSED Obama’s cancellation of Constellation?”

    Given that Newt Gingrich is a particularly devious and slimey politican, no, it wouldn’t amaze me. Surprise me slightly and disappoint me some sure.

    @53. Steve Morrison : “I’d think that annexing a Lunar colony would run afoul of the Outer Space Treaty anyhow.”

    Never mind the Treaty. It can be revised, scrapped or ignored and eventually almost certainly will be.

    @52. Derek :

    Stop it, Phil! From here until the election, only say nice things about Gingrich. He needs to win the Republican nomination so he can be laughed out of the race when he faces down Obama.

    As the old saying goes – Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

    It is quite plausible that the global and US economy will get in such a bad mess by the time of the US election that *whoever* the Republicans nominate will stroll in to the White House at a canter. Gingrich gets nominated = Gingrich may well win the POTUS job.

    Newt Gingrich is at least better than Rick Santorum or Ron Paul & its clearly now going to be between him and Romney. I don’t really think any of them – incl. Obama – are exactly ideal choices. But then that’s politics for ya. :-(

    Btw. I’ve been listening to the BA’s talk on the ‘Weekly Space Hangout’, (Jan. 26, 2012 – linked to my name here) while typing. Gingrich bit is from 17 minutes 25 secs on.

    “It could be do~able but it will take lots of money and cohones.” – Alan Boyle.

    Yep. That’s what we need and have been lacking in lately human space~wise.

    Big question here and one I’d like to see an honest answer given :

    If it wasn’t Newt Gingrich proposing and saying this moon base stuff , would folks there esp. the BA really be so people here esp. the BA honestly be against it?

    Or are some incl. the BAS letting their understandable dislike of the deeply flawed and unpleasant Gingrich unfairly bias their response to what he’s saying and arguing for?

    IOW, is it the man or the ideas you’re objecting to?

  67. 64. Ferris Valyn Says: Would it amaze you to know that, in 2010, Newt Gingrich ENDORSED Obama’s cancellation of Constellation?

    No, because Constellation was following the same path of massive price escalations and delays that we’re all so painfully familiar with from NASA projects.

  68. As Alan Boyle notes at the 20 min, 35 sec mark on that Weekly Space Hangout, Jan. 26, 2012 :

    “Newt is the science geek candidate.”

    We may not like that but I think its correct.

    Perhaps it is time to look beyond Newt’s detestable personality, shameful personal history and a few other policies of his and override that political and character dislike in favour of having rational, bold and hopeful space policy or is that too hard?

    To paraphrase Indiana Jones : “Newts? Why did it have to be Newts?”

    Note to that all the objections here that aren’t mere personal mockery applied equally to Apollo and we did that. Forty years ago.

    Yes, space exploration is costly. Its worth it.

    Yes, space exploration is risky. It’s worth it.

    Yes, politically it will take tough work and crushing the ignorant and short-sighted opposition – presumably in this case of a Gingrich presidency trying to push it through coming from the losing Democratic party side. But, guess what? Again, its worth it.

    As for Gingrich on climate change, yeah, its a trade off and yeah, if he gets in I can’t see any action being taken on that front. But then Obama hasn’t done anything on that issue either has he? If Obama gets in he’ll accept the climatological consensus science but I doubt he’ll act effectively on it. So what are we losing in that respect then?

    The really big question here for me is :

    How serious is Newt about this plan and will he actually fund and do it?

    I have very mixed feelings there. Can we trust the guy? Probably not but then that applies to all politicians. Gingrich in this respect – on the one issue of human space exploration policy – is the best hope we have, far better than the other contenders and the only one saying what I want to hear.

  69. CR

    Um… since it got brought up in one of MTU’s posts… regarding the retirement of the Space Shuttle, that was slated a long time before the current administration existed, right? Not really fair to blame Obama for that, though I’m sure that some people do. I’m not defending Obama’s stance on several things, but I’m also not blaming him for things that were initiated/planned for long before he took office.

  70. Phil: But it has to be done right, and Gingrich’s plan would be the worst way to do it.

    Fine, so what way is right?

  71. Messier Tidy Upper

    @69. CR : Well yes there’s that, true.

    However, Obama could have over-ridden his predecessors judgement and kept the Space Shuttles flying until their replacements were ready. He chose not to do so.

    The Space Shuttles, the second greatest space vehicles of all time behind only the Saturn V-Apollo Moon rockets ceased flying on his watch. Without better replacements or, in fact, any replacements at all.

    History’s verdict on Obama’s contribution to the US manned spaceflight program will be harsh and condemn him – deservedly so – because of this sad reality.

  72. andy

    However, Obama could have over-ridden his predecessors judgement and kept the Space Shuttles flying until their replacements were ready. He chose not to do so.

    History’s verdict on Obama’s contribution to the US manned spaceflight program will be harsh and condemn him – deservedly so – because of this sad reality.

    The space shuttle was a highly expensive misstep that held back any real progress in crewed spaceflight by NASA. Moreover they were noticeably ageing and had significantly outlived their design lifetime. When you have to decide whether an old vehicle running there are more concerns than just whether you have a replacement available: you have to ask yourself whether the safety risks and cost of keeping the ageing technology running is worth it.

    The shuttles were already long past their planned expiry date before Obama came to power. That no-one had managed to come up with a replacement system, despite knowing when this date was is hardly his fault. There are many things to criticise Obama on, but the knee-jerk reactionary vilification that comes his way from the internet armchair space cadets is quite ridiculous. In today’s economic climate and with the lack of a shuttle replacement as it is, it is highly doubtful anyone could have really done significantly better.

  73. ColinC

    I thoroughly dislike Newt Gingrich and will undoubtedly vote for an independent candidate if its Newt vs. Obama. That said, I’m deeply disappointed at the attempt at equivalency between embryonic stem cell research and space technology, development, and research. Embryonic stem cell research requires activities that are deeply wrong to a segment of the U.S. population. Space research may be a waste, space development may be a “danger to the earth’s environment”, but it is not morally reprehensible to a portion of the population. Those against embryonic stem cell research do not deny the scientific capability of embryonic stem cells, but question the moral efficacy of using them. THAT isn’t anti-science.

    I recognize that it matters that Newt hasn’t unequivocally stated his stance on evolution. Even so, he has said, “I believe evolution should be taught as science, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy”. I recognize that it matters that Newt still denies the results of climate science. Still he has said, “I’d say there is enough evidence that it’s reasonable to try to move toward renewables, to try to move toward conservation, to try to move toward a hydrogen economy.” Newt helped get rid of the OTA, a policy bureau that advised on government decisions on technical and scientific matters. Among science advocates, this was said to be so they could ignore reality, and embrace anti-science, but the argument of the time was rational. The GAO already provided much of that science and technical advice, as did a number of other agencies. The GAO now has a TA office to handle everything the OTA used to do. It was done for streamlining an oversized government, not “defunding science”.

    Calling Newt Gingrich, who is a slimy, self-centered, untrustworthy politician, an anti-science politician clouds the debate. It makes it harder to understand what anti-science means. If he is anti-science then in order to be anything else, he would have to unquestioningly support all aspects of science regardless of rational debates, potential moral faults, and countervailing necessities of politics.

    I am not the anti-science base, but I wholeheartedly agree with Gingrich on embryonic stem cells. I don’t care how many lives they might save. Morally, for me, I will not support embryonic stem cells with mymoney nor accept them if it is the only thing that could save my life.

  74. David C.

    I haven’t read the reactions here, other than yours Phil, so this is simply off the cuff opinion from me;
    What it boils down to, yes he is a scoundrel, whose wife shouldn’t trust him, but he has done one thing right with this over the top idea of expanded HSF and a Permanent Moon Base; As impractical as his plan is, it is a plan, and as likely to see the light of the Sun on the Moon, as any in the past decade; HOWEVER!! What he has done, is get the Temperament of the the Electorate in America to the value of HSF and Space Settlement; and that is a good thing;
    We Space Geeks have been blowing our horn for 40-60 years about Space and the future of Space Settlement, and getting no where; we make up only a fraction of the population. and a minute one at that; we all know that our fight is not with NASA, but with the politicians that control NASA, from Political Cycle to Political Cycle; if we want to do Space as anything more than PORK to Congressional Districts, then we have to break this Cycle, and perhaps Newt’s Space Speech and a Newt Presidency will do it; just need more data to make up my mind;

    One last point:
    Until we have leaders (US and elsewhere) who are born in “the age of Technological Advancement” the late 1980s to 2000, and grew up with that Technology, I don’t think we can say that any of the present crop will have any concept of what to do with the Tech card; they are still fixated on the past, not the future;
    all we can hope for is that the entrepreneurs and scientists/engineers who are at the forefront of Tech, advancement will continue to push the envelope so that when the politicians are ready, the technology is there to advance Human Settlement of the Solar System

  75. Problem here is that Iran clearly wants to start a war with us. :-(

    What the hell are you saying? Iran is going forward his nuclear plan to proper defend themselves from you (United States). After witnessing what happened to Iraq, Afghanistan and now Lybia, it is their right to protect their borders.

    You don’t really understand much about foreign policy, do you? If you annoy someone with sanctions and embargoes, they will most likely defend themselves against a threat. The USA has already provoked Iran many times now, by parking their battleships and aircraft carriers right in from of their beards! The government can’t wait to kill another million of innocent people, like they did in Iraq, just to get hold of the precious oil Iran has. You want to use all foreign oil before taping in to your own, and guess why? Because if your government is many things, stupid isn’t one of them. They know once American oil is all that is left, they will rule the world.

    Hopefully the dollar is doomed before that happens. Just wait for China to dish out the dollar as their reserve currency and create their own gold standard money.

    Mr. former speaker of the House is a warmonger, like all other GOP candidates except for Doctor Paul. He lobbied millions of dollars from Freedie Mac right before the housing bubble collapse, in the past he demonstrated many xenophobic ideals, and as Phil Plait said, he attacks reasonable science when he has the chance.

  76. TD

    I’m surprised little attention has been given to Newt’s most inane comment in that speech; namely that once the moon base reaches a population of 13,000 it can apply to become a state. I believe that would be a violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

  77. Yeah – heaven forbid we take money from NASA! I mean, think of the programs destroyed!

    If NASA had been active in queen Isabella’s court, Europe would still be sending unmanned probes to the New World.

  78. Yacko

    Funny thing about this. How do those US citizens, who think the US is so in hock that they point to their own “superior” budgeting skills, justify this? They say, I have to balance my budget, I have to spend wisely. Do they not see that the engineering, and spending on a project like this is the equivalent of them stating that they will live in a 10,000 square foot mansion on an estate half the size of Rhode Island, said house made entirely of sheets of manmade diamond with nanotube trim by 2020? What do they figure, maybe a bit of research, some unicorn horn dust and a twitch of the nose and it will get done? Do they understand that Star Trek is unachievable at current wealth levels. It has been estimated it would take 100 years current WORLD GDP to build jusr one starshipish vessel.

    We went to the moon for a brief period. It was a great stunt and a proof of concept. But any effort now will need to be sustainable and long term, and no matter what riches may pour from the program, this will still be a money draining adventure. What is needed here is afar reaching 50 year multi-national research and planning program, just to simulate out most of the bugs, and prepare for first launch. It took a thousand years give or take just to sail to the “new world” with any safety, repeatability and regularity, a place that is already on the same planet. To think that populating other solar system bodies just takes bolting together a few doodads and programming a few computers is ludicrous and just a different shade of adolescent sci-fi. Tom Swift anyone?

  79. David M.

    I’m glad I’m not one of the gullible Newt flock. I have dirt to sell ya.

  80. 49. Seabear70 Says: If I were to consider most of the people posting here and the author experts in how to live life and set goals, I’d slash my throat with a broken whiskey bottle before I got out of bed.

    Don’t let our lack of credentials stop you! No one else on the internet ever makes those distinctions.

    You people are pathetic.
    Some of you actually want this, and you have to know that it will NEVER happen with Obama leading us, but you are so emotionally invested in him that you will throw away your dreams to be able to call yourselves liberals.

    First, what makes you think we all consider ourselves Liberals? Second, of course it’s not going to happen with Obama – or any President who would have possibly been in office in 2012. We’re still digging out of the mess that the last couple of administrations got us into by not paying attention to all the Wall st. shenanigans that were/are going on.

    You people should be ashamed of yourselves, but I don’t think your egos are strong enough to think about how wrong you are.
    Ashamed of ourselves for… disagreeing with you? Shoot, I’ll try to go on living without committing seppuku. I’m gonna need some liquid courage, though. Got any more whiskey?

    50. Utakata Says: @ Seabear70
    “The only technology mentioned is the Continuous propulsion system.”
    You mean this? O.O [link baleeted]

    Hah!!

    51. sorrykb Says: To everyone questioning the costs of this bold endeavor, you clearly have too little imagination to realize its genius:
    Obviously, the moon base can be built more quickly AND at a substantial savings by replacing all the overpaid big-government so-called “scientists” with inner-city school-children who need to learn a work ethic.
    Geez… bunch of sheeple…

    Yes! This!

    52. Derek Says:
    Stop it, Phil!
    From here until the election, only say nice things about Gingrich. He needs to win the Republican nomination so he can be laughed out of the race when he faces down Obama.

    Yeah! Um, I mean, Gingrich is awesome! Every true Republican should vote for him in the primaries! He’s a true visionary!

    *snicker*

  81. zakk

    Why are people buying into this of course its possible anything is with the right mindset/resources but that’s just it if we use all of the resources for NASA it will be pretty much dryed up and all we will have accomplished is doing something ridiculous, it doesn’t put us any closer to anything beside saying we’re there i understand as well that baby steps are important but we’re still not economically set for this and most likely won’t be for quite some time but we are set for projects , experiments, and new ways (better ways) to get into space. but on the original point newt gingrinch (haha) is doing what every politician does best, lie lie and lie some more and if he is serious than he shouldn’t be president for the fact that he doesn’t even know how much NASA gets every year or the costs of doing such a thing therefore makes that entire sentence about putting a base on the moon completely irresponsible.

  82. Dori

    You used precisely the correct word, Phil: “pander.” In 1980, Gingrich gave a speech at the Worldcon in Boston. It was during his first term in Boston and he hadn’t yet become well known or so polarizing. Being a politics junkie as well as an SF fan, I was one of maybe 150-200 people who attended. Oh, he certainly said all the right things, and came across as clearly very knowledgeable about the space program. Something about him gave me the creeps, as if he was looking to form a small cadre of people who were ultra-loyal to him alone. I can’t say he’s ever done anything to dissuade that opinion.

    At this point, without having any credentials in psychology, but as a mother of a young lady with special needs and a former special ed teacher, I seriously wonder if he is completely sane. He seems to me to be incredibly megalomaniac and certainly egocentric.

  83. PeteC

    Messier, and others:

    I’m British, and while a keen watcher of US politics – British politics may well be a car crash, but it’s a low velocity skid on icy ground, while US politics is a train wreck with one train loaded with plutonium and fireworks smashing into another loaded with plastic explosive and napalm – and obviously enough I won’t be voting for any candidate. No side is “my side” and I don’t belong to, or support, either party. So while I have strong opinions on various issues, I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to “Republican Slime” or “Democrat scum” or any of the rest of it.

    That said, I’m afraid I have to be excessively dubious on this one. On a historical note, Gingrich does have a long history of less than completely honest behaviour. In each state he has visited, he has promised new, expensive infrastructure projects that will benefit the state immensely (and add billions or trillions to the US deficit) without any indication of how those projects will be funded.

    It’s not the idea itself, or even if it could be done that I argue with here. I’d love to see some real space activity in my lifetime, and now I’m 42 I doubt that I ever will. However, I strongly suspect that anyone who argues in favour of Newt Gingrich for this is being, well, excessively naive. I don’t believe that he has the slightest intent of doing anything at all for a moon colony beyond attempting to use the “wouldn’t it be cool if…” factor to try to gain votes. He won’t push for a spending bill. He won’t raise taxes to pay for it. He won’t even cut the military, social security and medicare funding for it. He’s not planning to do anything at all beyond maybe directing NASA to make some really cool animations he can stand in front of and imply that he, personally, trains astronauts like he trains Generals and Admirals in the Art of War (his own statement there).

    At most, it’s a plan to close NASA, divert the funding to private companies, and then ensure that appropriate lobbying occurs – or then a year or two later, cut that “wasteful” government funding to private companies.

  84. Grand Lunar

    Much of what you wrote Phil, I never considered. Interesting to see a pro’s take on it.

    Off hand, I can think of a few ways to make this a better idea.

    First, don’t make it a race (obviously).

    Second, proceed more slowly. Why not try for the 2030s for a base instead?

    Lastly, let us do this WITHOUT the SLS. United Launch Allience has a great idea for using EELVs and a depot to get to the moon, and perhaps make a base out of it.

  85. Ganzy

    @PeteC

    Greetings fellow countryman! I concur with much of what you have said above, and you got it across better than I could have. I trust Plait and De Grasse Tyson on this too.

    I smell a trap.

  86. Outcast

    I have a question, why the heck are we waiting for government to get around to doing something it’s had the capability to do for 30 years and hasn’t? If we want to make space travel available to private individuals instead of a government monopolized elite club, then we must support the efforts of private enterprise to develop space.

    Oh, and about that bureacracy, considering that the Ares 1-x was facing launch costs upwards of $1 BILLION per launch according to the Augustine Commission, and the Falcon 9 Heavy costs $78 MILLION per launch, it’s no wonder we haven’t done much in space.

  87. Derek

    @ 67, Messier: Any number of things are possible. That doesn’t mean they all deserve equal attention.

    Gingrich getting elected to the white house is a good example. Yes, it is possible. But the man has no support from the center, half of his own party hates him, and he has more baggage than the airline industry. (See: Being fined for ethics violations, previously supporting climate change reform, being married 3 times, repeated language flubs…)

    He’s doing ‘well’ in the primaries right now because he has support from a group that is a significant minority in the US, but makes up about half of Republicans – super conservative evangelicals. But even they are not likely to continue supporting him over the long term, as he has repeatedly flaunted their ‘core’ values – through things like his work with Pelosi, and his apparent disrepect for the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.

    If you want a democrat to win the election, the best thing possible at this point is to encourage folks to vote Gingrich. Romney is infinitely more electable, has a lot more money, and is by far the scarier Republican nominee.

  88. CB

    I would never vote for Newt, but I’m not sure how this is different than Kennedy saying we will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Leaders or potential leaders are entitled to dream big and challenge the scientists to figure out the details. It’s not like he said that by 2020 we would prove that creationism is the truth.

  89. Good article via Universe Today linked to my name here.

    Mitt Romney apparently said during one of the interminable Republican debates :

    If I had a business executive come up to me and say ‘I want to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the Moon’, I’d say, you’re fired.”
    – Page 10, “Romeny pummels Newtin debate”, Brad Norington piece in The Weekend Australian, 2012, Jan. 28th-29th.

    So it seems he like Obama is against ghaving a decent manned spaceflight policy. Of the trio most likely to be US President, Newt for all his flaws is now the one I’d most like to see win.

  90. Messier Tidy Upper

    @88. Derek :

    If you want a democrat to win the election, ..

    False assumption there, mate.

    I don’t want any of them to win really. They’re all politicians & all deeply flawed and problematic in their own ways. Sadly, one of these unsuitable candidates – almost certainly out of Obama, Romney & Gingrich will be elected anyhow regardless of what I, you or anyone else actually prefers. Wish we could scrap the lot of them and start over.

    Out of the three candidates on offer, as I see it :

    Obama is, arguably, the first anti-American American president. For me, Obama’s defining episode was sitting happily along to chants of his racist hate preacher Jeremiah Wright saying “God D-n America!” That alone should have disqualified him for US citizenship let alone the role of POTUS and its a shame he got in based on meaningless slogans, great personal charisma and the unspoken but key desire among too many Americans to have their first “Black” President regardless of his suitability otherwise. Barack Hussein Obama has displayed an anti-Semitic pro-Islamist streak a mile wide snubbing Netanyahu, President of the closest US ally Israel and bowing and grovelling to the Muslim world. Yes, he – or SEAL team 6 – got Osama bin Laden but other than that his foreign affairs stance has been pathetically weak. He has, predictably, failed to live up to the high expectations and basically had his go at being President and been found wanting at it. Not up to the task.

    Still at least he wasn’t as bad as a McCain-Palin presidency would’ve been.

    Science~wise, whilst Obama accepts the climatological consensus of HIRGO and evolution he does little to really advance US science and lead the world. Obama’s worst error in my view is his space policy – cutting the Constellation program just as it was literally starting to take off. I will never forgive him for that. Americans voting for him means more of the same. I expect he’ll probably win a second term but I certainly don’t think he deserves to do so.

    Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper and a mild, bland, uninspiring super-rich Mormon man. I don’t like him, I don’t hate him. He’s a moderate with some whacky Mormon beliefs. He’s also cruel to his pets which is a strong negative against him. The Tea party and religious Right hate him which is something in his favour and the US could use someone calm and boring at the helm for a while to cool the hyper-partisan atmosphere. Romney, I think, accepts scientific reality on HIRGO and more but is pretending otherwise for now to win the votes of those who don’t. Voting him President would mean a moderate Republican regime which wouldn’t be the end of the world and may actually mean more progress on “progressive” issues such as acting on HIRGO than a continued spell of Obama with a deadlocked hostile Congress.

    Mittens was my favourite or rather least disliked one out of the Republican field – John Huntsman aside – until I read his dreadful Trump-imitation comment quoted at #91 (January 28th, 2012 at 8:35 pm) which has blown it for me in terms of being able to support him even lukewarmly now. A guy that dismisses the space program like that automatically has my opposition. I still think Romney’s most likely to end up as the Republican nomination but I’m no longer hoping that happens.

    Newt Gingrich is a horrible, dislikable, egotistical person. I can’t stand him. His disgusting hypocristy and treatment of women esp. his ex-wives is well, disgusting. Newt has a stack of baggage a light year tall and is volatile and untrustworthy.

    BUT.

    Newton Gingrich is also the “science geek” candidate and I’m a science geek. Gingrich is the only one to put forward a bold vision for the US manned spaceflight program. The only one talking about it and raising the subject in a courageous way from what I gather from here in Oz. (Please correct me if I’m wrong folks!) The only one to say just what I want to hear and he’s a patriot who supports the USA in an unapologetic forthright hopeful and proud way. Newton Gingrich is on the side of Western culture in a way B.H. Obama is not. Science~wise as the BA has noted he’s problematic in some areas but like Mittens how much of what he says is regrettably necessary pandering to the religious Tea Party right and how much is what he actually thinks in reality is unclear. He certainly used to accept the science of HIRGO. Maybe he’ll become “re-convinced” of the climatological reality once in office. I can’t see him actually institutiong Creationism in America as the Constituition and Courts wouldn’t allow it.

    The Americans choosing Gingrich for their President would be taking a bold gamble and heading for some exciting and dramatic times. A lot of unknowns but a chance to really improve and go somewhere. Like back into a leading role in space. I really really hope so anyhow. That hope, that visionary factor is so important to me that it outweighs everything else incl. all Newt’s many negatives.

    So if I were an American and eligiable to vote, right now, I’d be voting Gingrich. Yes, based almost solely on that one speech and that he’s pro-space science and pro-Lunar return. I’d be voting it with concern over a few areas and strong personal dislike of the man as well but of the three options right now he’s the least bad and most promising for the US and Western future.

    (You Americans do know your voting for the leader of the Western world as well as your own nation right? Where you lead much of the world and especially Australia is bound to follow. Sometimes I think us Aussies might as well apply to become the newest State.)

    Mind you, I keep looking at the current Presidential contenders and desperately wishing for more and better. Is it too late for anyone new to enter the race? Too late for the Democratic Party to ditch Obama and replace him with Hilary Clinton, Joseph Lieberman or someone else instead?
    Sigh.

  91. Infinite123Lifer

    “I can’t see him actually”

  92. Joseph G

    @92 MTU: The Americans choosing Gingrich for their President would be taking a bold gamble and heading for some exciting and dramatic times.

    In much the same way that dousing yourself with gasoline and jumping out of a plane while smoking crack is “a bold gamble heading for some exciting and dramatic times” :)

  93. Since I probably wont get a reply from Phil to my comment #71, would anyone else like to have a stab at what he thinks is the “right” way to do a Lunar base?

  94. kat wagner

    Where’s my t-shirt?

  95. Joseph G
  96. randomname123

    I don’t see your logic for saying we shouldn’t build a moon base because it might take take away from NASA. I thought the whole point of NASA was to get us into space? If private companies can do a much better job then give the money to them. Newt Gingrich has the right idea to build a moon base, and I don’t understand why a news website about space would oppose it.

  97. Joseph G

    @95 Andrew W: Well, I posted at #14 about my own idea of what should be done. But I am not a rocket scientist, so take with a grain of sodium chloride :)

  98. randomname123

    This article and others like it, are a case where people feel like they need to oppose an idea just because they don’t like the person saying it. Admit it, if Obama announced this instead of Gingrich, you would be praying to him as if he would the God of the space program. But here you are, writing negative stories because a republican came up with the idea.

  99. Joseph G

    Oh for crying out loud! We’re not supposed to copy our past posts, we’re supposed to link to them instead. So I did. But it put my link into moderation. A link to THIS PAGE.
    Anyway Andrew, my opinion is under post #14. I know, but at least it’s something.

  100. flip

    @54 Steve

    Politically: Sure, if you continue to insist on voting for politicians with no vision or ambition and accept the status quo, then that wouldn’t get you very far, now would it.

    I hate this. People always act like all you need is the right person in the job, and totally forget that politics is almost always going to bring about compromise. The checks and balances of most democracies ensures that nothing will ever go the way the leader envisages it, purely because the other side will haggle over it. I’m as idealistic as the next person and expect leaders to have vision and ambition, but that’s not the whole ball game and never will be.

    Status quo sticks around simply *because* that’s the way the system is designed. The fact is that politically, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took more than 8 years just to get everyone on the same page.

    The above comments also miss the point that there are other missions that are planned/ongoing which are just as important, if not more so. You act like NASA’s sitting around twiddling its thumbs waiting to go somewhere and all they need is direction. Phil clearly pointed out that any mission to the Moon may come at the cost of those programs; and if not in terms of finances, it can stretch in other ways, such as staffing and other resources.

    Personally, I think the only reason this is different from JFK is that there was political will and public backing. The Cold War helped a lot to keep people behind it; now there’s no impetus. And crying that China will get there first is not likely to make people care as much.

    After reading the comments, I would be more partial to an international effort to build a base – either on the Moon or Mars – but with a robotic mission first for investigating habitat, as suggested above by Joseph G.

    @71 Andrew W

    The right way might be to realistically account for time. I don’t think anyone would disagree it’s doable – what’s not is the timescale. I also think a lot of people here underestimate the technical issues of making a base. It’s all well and good to remember we sent a few people, but maintaining the ISS should remind us that it’s not that easy to create and maintain something – especially when it’s further away and with more chance of things going wrong quicker than we can rescue people.

    All of the people going on about how “at least it’s a plan”…. next time you want to complain about NASA overspending, cancelling projects, and being completely unrealistic… remember your comment about plans. Personally I’d rather have no plan at all than a completely unrealistic one.

    @74 ColinC

    I was going to reply, but no: how completely off topic is your argument.

  101. Messier Tidy Upper

    @17. Infinite123Lifer :

    “The Newt-onian Mechanics” (emphasis)
    Not funny Phil. Please don’t do that again.

    Hey, some of us like puns & wordplay here! I’m one of them. ;-)

    @ 76. Gonçalo Aguiar :

    Did you miss the fact that Iran is building nuclear reactors underground and giving plenty of indications it’s trying to illegally gain nuclear bombs which it is just crazy enough to use in anger on, say, vapourising Tel Aviv – or maybe New York – and sparking WWIII? Or that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust Denying, homophobic, evil dictator who wants to wipe Israel off the map and destroy the West to bring on the “Hidden Imam’s” coming and the Muslim apocalpyse? Or that Iran has threatened to close the straights of Hormuz which is virtually an act of war and the even the other Arab nations secretly want Iran taken out? Really? :roll:

    It’d be going too far off topic here to get into this much further so just one question for you to consider very hard – Do you really trust Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Mulalhs and Ayatollahs with nukes?

    @94. Joseph G :

    [Electing Gingrich President would be a bold gamble for exciting times ahead.] In much the same way that dousing yourself with gasoline and jumping out of a plane while smoking crack is “a bold gamble heading for some exciting and dramatic times”

    Well, hopefully not! :-o

    Yeah, Gingrich has a lot of possible problems and is a really dislikable man with a bad personal history but I don’t think he’s that quite as bad as that. Mind you, I can understand why folks wouldn’t vote for him. I doubt he’ll win the nomination or the Presidency. But Newton Gingrich is the only one saying the right thing when it comes to human spaceflight and returning to the Moon in my view. The goal and lifelong dream of us establishing a lunar base – if he’s serious – outweighs Newt’s negatives for me personally anyhow.

  102. 98. flip Says:

    I’ll refer you to my comment #33, longer timescales kill space initiatives because they’re not acceptable in political terms, so doing a lunar base the Congress/NASA way you’ll get the same result you’ve gotten for 40 years.

    Isn’t doing something over and over again the same way and expecting a different result supposed to be a sign of insanity? ;-)

  103. ColinC

    @98 flip.

    @74 ColinC

    I was going to reply, but no: how completely off topic is your argument.

    My post was off topic because Phil accused Newt of pandering to anti-science and I disagreed?

    I think your dismissiveness is undue.

  104. Infinite123Lifer

    ” “The Newt-onian Mechanics” (emphasis)
    Not funny Phil. Please don’t do that again.”

    Hey, some of us like puns & wordplay here! I’m one of them. ;-)

    Yes, it was quite clever. However, occasionally the ghost of the late physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, the ghost of the guy who gave the world its first reflecting telescope and wrote the Principia in which contained such things as the three universal laws of motion, well occasionally the ghost takes over and well, just never mind. Please go on touting your man as if he should be president based upon whatever you find to base it upon.

    Like Gingrich could ever screw over the likes of a Leibniz. Cheese and Rice.

    Who the hell is Mittens anyway? never mind, I don’t really give a damn.
    If he’s the guy who makes the dog ride on top of the car . . . omg, is Australia too hot to bring my Boxer along? Maybe I should go to Canada, its closer, yeah, Canada.

    Pardon me, MTU, but I think you should participate in an excercise.

    Pretend like you thoroughly no longer trust or believe in what any Republicans say. Pretend like Gingrich is a liar, pretend his lies are intended to deceive you and others to get votes. Pretend like George Bush was not the president for 8 years (i do) Pretend like you enjoy Obama for whatever reasons you can muster, goto post #92 and tear it apart. I seriously would love to see your anti-thoughts on this one. :)

  105. Gunnar

    @MTU

    You said “. . .even the other Arab nations secretly want Iran taken out…”

    I’m sure you meant to say “other Muslim nations” rather than “other Arab nations.” Iranians are not Arabs. I’m sure that both Iranians and Arabs would feel insulted by the implication that Iranians are fellow Arabs (or vice versa).

    As for presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential election, I’m not convinced that Newt would be a lesser evil than Obama (or even Romney). About the only candidates I am sure that Newt would be a lesser evil than are Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin. Thank goodness, we don’t have to worry about either of those two getting elected (even if they were still in the running, which they are not, of course)!

  106. flip

    @101 ColinC

    Your comments seemed more about embryos to me. And like I said, I was going to respond but thought better of it – this is about astronomy, not medicine. Better places to have arguments over that. And having read of some of the other posts on Republican views of science, I will side with Phil; being an Aussie I have not followed the Republican primaries myself. Anyway, feel free to ignore my comments, it just seemed a little out of place that’s all.

    @100 Andrew W

    My point was that physics trumps politics. No matter how well policy plays out, it doesn’t make a building on the moon get built faster or inspiration to solve large problems happen. I agree that longer timescales tend to kill enthusiasm/budgets, but think there’s a middle ground. Doing it fast isn’t the way to correct past mistakes either; especially where lives are concerned.

  107. I’m voting NONE OF THE ABOVE. The Republicans are too absurd to take seriously and Obama is just the “Good Cop” selling the Empire.

    I guess a theoretical Moon Base is more worthy of Statehood than Washington, DC?

    Screw the Moon, let’s go move to the “Axiom” spaceship / shopping mall that was portrayed in WALL-E.

    For a serious perspective:

    Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations – President John F. Kennedy
    New York – September 20th 1963

    ”Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity–in the field of space–there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply. Why, therefore, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries–indeed of all the world–cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending someday in this decade to the moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries. ….”

    “Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world–or to make it the last.”

    — President John F. Kennedy, September 20, 1963 speech to the UN calling for an end to the Cold War and converting the Moon Race into an international cooperative effort, two months and two days before he was removed from office.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Speeches/Address-Before-the-18th-General-Assembly-of-the-United-Nations-September-20-1963.aspx

  108. Messier Tidy Upper

    @103. Gunnar :

    @MTU – You said “. . .even the other Arab nations secretly want Iran taken out…”
    I’m sure you meant to say “other Muslim nations” rather than “other Arab nations.” Iranians are not Arabs. I’m sure that both Iranians and Arabs would feel insulted by the implication that Iranians are fellow Arabs (or vice versa).

    Fair enough, you’re right there. Persians /Iranians and Arabs are different groups aren’t they?

    Now, let me get this right. The Arabs are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists, wish to destroy Israel and the West and keep their women enslaved, genitally mutilated and burka clad whereas as the Persians / Iranians are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists, wish to destroy Israel and the West and keep their women enslaved, genitally mutilated and burka clad or was that the other way around? :-(

    I guess there are some cultural and political differences (one group has Ayatollahs, the other has Sheiks?) but I’m not really sure I can see that many. Or that it matters much more than the subtle differences between Lutheran Christian fundamentalists and Calvinist Christian fundamentalists.

    I suppose I could have specified Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states (Kuwait, Dubai, Quatar, Abu Dhabi, etc) as the ones who secretly want to have Iran gone and the US-Israel doing that difficult job for them but really its all a whole other side kettle of fish that I’m not overly keen to go into here.

    As for presidential candidates in the upcoming presidential election, I’m not convinced that Newt would be a lesser evil than Obama (or even Romney). About the only candidates I am sure that Newt would be a lesser evil than are Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin. Thank goodness, we don’t have to worry about either of those two getting elected (even if they were still in the running, which they are not, of course)!

    True enough but what about Rick Santorum? Rick Perry? Ron Paul? I’d suggest Gingrich, unpleasant as he undeniably is, is an improvement on all those three for starters. ;-)

    Look the thing is I don’t like Newt Gingrich.

    I really don’t. I think Newt Gingrich is a horrible person, who has said and done some horrid things and has a bunch of other horrible policies. I can’t stand him as such. I wouldn’t normally support him at all.

    BUT ..

    Gingrich *is* the only Presidential candidate who is seriously talking about advancing US space policy. Talking about going back to the Moon to study and settle and build and explore and be bold.

    I’m a huge SF and space exploration fan. I’ve always wanted us to do that and to see it happen in my lifetime.

    Obama killed ‘Constellation’ just as it was starting to take off. That is unforgivable in my eyes. Mitt Romney has rejected the idea of going to the Moon. Neither of the alternative candidates believes in doing what I have been hoping my whole life to see us do.

    So who does that leave?

    Give me somebody else running for POTUS with a realistic chance of getting there who offers the goal of a Moonbase, ASAP, please! Somebody else who has a vision for human spaceflight and America – the West – taking the lead in that cruical area again.

    Go on, give me a better choice for taking us to that goal.
    There isn’t one is there? None of the other two will do.

    Gingrich is the only one saying what I believe in and most want to see. Offering me hope that something I’ve always wanted to see might be happening. So there we are. I hate Newt the man but I loved his one speech and his idea there. It has to be Gingrich if we’re to see the future I want us to see.

    So, to hades, YES!, I would hold my nose and vote for that slimebag Gingrich if I could. Which I can’t. Hoping, just hoping that he’ll actually for once do what he says he’ll do. Because it means that flippin’ much to me and I think all of us. For the future.

  109. Ann

    I don’t think there is a bigger bag of gas on the planet. Why don’t they just let loose his tether and he would float up to the moon, maybe. Then he could manufacture whatever he wants and petition for statehood. ( I mean really, is he aware of why the International Space Station is called the INTERNATIONAL Space Station?)

  110. Gonçalo Aguiar wrote(@76):

    What the hell are you saying?

    His posts seem to indicate that he, Messier Tidy Upper, is an islamophobe; the mere mention of Palestine, Hamas, Iran,… ect, seems to provoke a response.

    Yet, he called me a troll.

  111. Ganzy

    @110 Mark

    Thanks for posting that JFK quote, I’ve never read it before. It’s very inspiring.

    I’m pleased that CERN is an international collaboration and is working well. Same goes for the ISS as Ann mentions above. I think such projects are too big for the inhabitants of any single country to be expected to pay for. A problem shared is a problem halved etc. Winners all round. I think this is the way forward, not competetive Dick-waving.

  112. @ 103 MTU wrote:

    …and the even the other Arab nations secretly want Iran taken out

    Clever. You employ ancient religious hatred(FTR, there is nothing secret about it).

    Your agenda is clear to any with, even a perfunctory knowledge of, the history of Southwest Asia.

  113. Ganzy

    @113Solius

    Don’t take MTU’s troll comment to heart. He’s just bitter that he’s an Australian and not an American that’s all. His only comfort is the fact he lives on the same planet. He’ll be fine tomorrow, you wait and see! How’s it going down-under M :P :D ;)

  114. MTU wrote:

    The Arabs are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists, wish to destroy Israel and the West and keep their women enslaved, genitally mutilated and burka clad whereas as the Persians / Iranians are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists…

    Wow! Haters will hate.

  115. As the father of my father would say: האהבה כובשת את הכל

  116. Peace, my brother.

  117. Checkmate1

    I think Newt is proving the old quote ” You can fool some of the people all the time…”
    All one has to do is look at this man’s record, listen to his blatherings, or read some of his writings to realize he Is Not The Pro-science Guy you’re looking for.
    No evangelical religious bigot is ever going to be pro-science; If he says he is, he is lying to you.
    Do not drink the Kool-aid! Remain very skeptical, and stay off the unicorns.

  118. ND

    Messier Tidy Upper

    “Gingrich *is* the only Presidential candidate who is seriously talking about advancing US space policy. Talking about going back to the Moon to study and settle and build and explore and be bold.”

    Dude, the man says a lot of things, for the sole purpose of saying things in front of a crowd and getting attention. How do you know he’s serious about putting a US base on the moon?

  119. There are two big fallacies with this whole “privatize space” idea.

    The first is that spaceflight has always been completely governmental and not private. Not true at all. The Saturn-V was made by Douglas, Boeing and Rockwell, with an instrument ring by IBM. The Titans were Martian-Marietta and the Atlas was Convair. ALL were built by contractors and saying “Well lets contract it out” is not some bold and new concept.

    The second is that the government needs to only blaze the trail once and then private industry will develop it. Dr. Neil Tyson brought up the Lewis and Clark analogy, that after they found out what was on the West Coast, there was a private effort to go there.

    The moon is not quite the same. Nobody is going to be homestedding on the moon. It’s more likely to have a base for pure science purposes in the near future. That’s more akin to something like South Pole Station or McMurdo Base – both of these are government run science facilities.

  120. @MTU: With all due respect, and you know I normally agree with you, but I personally have a very different take on the issue of dealing with Iran. And I have relatives in Israel, so it is an issue I care about!
    I’ve talked to a number of Iranians, and I have to say, I’ve never met one I didn’t like! By and large, they seem to me to be a very educated, reasonable people, who happen to be living under an oppressive regime. Particularly the younger generation – many of them seem set on doing as many “western” things as they can get away with without getting beaten up by the religious authorities! Bottom line, I believe that it’s only a matter of time before reform comes to Iran, and I think that the worst thing we can do at this point is to ramp up our rhetoric against them as a state. The Iranian government will just use that to unite the people against the evil Zionist imperialists, instead of focusing their anger where it belongs, on their theocratic, authoritarian government. The last Iranian revolution was hijacked by the Islamists who used the Iranian people’s resentment of foreign interference to consolidate their power.
    In my humble opinion, we need to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen the next time ’round.

    @121 ND: Dude, the man says a lot of things, for the sole purpose of saying things in front of a crowd and getting attention. How do you know he’s serious about putting a US base on the moon?

    That’s my big worry, too. It’s not just a case of “Live with his other nastiness because he’ll get us to the moon.” He has a history of this sort of thing. When it was politically expedient, he filmed a “Global Warming awareness” TV spot. Now he’s firmly on board with the deniers, because that’s what’ll get him votes in the primaries.

  121. VinceRN

    The one good thing I would say is that if he were elected (which I think is pretty much impossible anyway) the right science advisers might be able to steer that motivation into a more realistic channel.

    A space race might have the advantage of motivating the people, and serious competition focuses the concentration wonderfully. Such a course might serve as a bridge to the time when private space exploration becomes a reality – probably a generation away.

    However, the upcoming election will either give us four more years of Obama, or it will give us Romney. Obama has already entirely removed any semblance of a manned space program from our near future, and Romney is unlikely to do anything to change that.

    The one thing I liked about Bush was that he was motivated to pursue manned space exploration. Sure his goals were a little unrealistic, and he considered the war(s) a higher funding priority, but at least he tried to get us on track. OK, yeah, he was crap on most everything else, spent money like a drunken sailor, had an odd liking for war, and cared little for personal freedom, but I was still in favor of him lighting a fire under NASA.

    I think we desperately need a manned space program. I also think that despite NASA’s redefinition of the term, the lower reaches of the F layer of the ionosphere are absolutely, unequivocally, NOT space.

  122. Nigel Depledge

    John Pold (32) said:

    The decision to go to the moon by John F Kennedy in 1961 was judged crazy, unrealistic by far more people than the people disapproving Gingrich’s plan:

    First off, this does not change the dramatically different political environments that pertained then and now. Back in 1961, the USSR seemed to be several steps ahead of the US in rocket (and therefore, ICBM) technology. Kennedy needed a goal that was hard enough that the Soviets couldn’t make much use of their head start on the USA in the space race. And anti-Soviet paranoia was strong enough to give NASA the funding they needed to do the job.

    Second, in case you slept through your history classes, von Braun had been a proponent of manned spaceflight for years before Kennedy’s speech but had received virtually no backing until the USSR launched first Sputnik, and then Vostok. It was known to be a very hard challenge, but it was also known to be possible. Don’t forget that, at the time, rocket technology was promising all sorts of wonders, and people were expecting the not-too-distant future to contain interplanetary travel on a routine basis.

    removing layers of bureaucracy at NASA,

    To achieve what, exactly? First, what bureaucracy at NASA prevents them from achieving stuff? Second, how will removing it be achieved without damaging any of their systems that work? Third, how will this help to set up a manned base on the Moon in 8 years?

    setting a clear dated goal = year 2020,

    This is too Kennedyesque. It’s fairly obviously a stunt. The USA is not currently engaged in any kind of space race, and has no motivation to do so.

    having funds

    This is a joke. NASA receives a tiny pittance compared to most US government departments. If you want to make a base on the moon, NASA is going to need a lot more money, and not mere redirection of funds it is currently spending on worthwhile science.

    and benefiting private sector and citizens (adult, kids) highly motivated by such inspirational goal will help this country moving forward again.

    What? Explain how, exactly?

    I don’t want my grand kids staying a Chinese moon hotel …

    Why not? Are you a bigot?

    I want my grand kids staying a Hilton moon hotel …

    Why shouold it matter what the hotel is called?

    Gingrich you have my vote

    So, obviously, his speech has reached you, at least. Maybe now you should consider exactly how Gingrich’s “vision” is supposed to come to pass?

    BTW, comparisons with Project Apollo are only valid if a comparable level of funding is supplied.

  123. Jim

    @92 MTU: Re: Newt Gingrich, you said he is “The only one to say just what I want to hear”. As much as I respect your opinions on many things, I’m afraid that Newt Gingrich has just sold you a bridge. If he makes the same speech in a non-space-related state I might give it a little more weight, but it certainly appears that he’s saying what he thinks whoever he’s talking to wants to hear.

    @110 MTU: “Gingrich *is* the only Presidential candidate who is seriously talking about advancing US space policy”. I dispute the word “seriously”. He’s talking pie-in-the-sky to win votes.

    Do I have a better plan? No, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see that the emperor has no clothes.

  124. Ann

    The words Gingrich and serious do not belong in the same sentence. Also words such as ‘vision’, unless you are talking about his bifocals.

  125. Ann:

    The words Gingrich and serious do not belong in the same sentence.

    How about: “It would take a serious head injury for me to vote for Gingrich”? :-)

  126. mike burkhart

    I trust Gingrich about as far as I can throw him. Oh I forgot I’m into Martial Arts and could throw him far.Lets just say I’ll beleve it when I see it. As for the Moon base I recomend Phil as its frist comander and I ‘d like to visit ,the Apollo landing sites would make grate tourist attractions. For thoses who like the fatasy of maning a moon base and have a Nintendo DS ,buy and play the game Space Camp you will love it.

  127. Messier Tidy Upper

    @124. Joseph G Says:

    @MTU: With all due respect, and you know I normally agree with you, but I personally have a very different take on the issue of dealing with Iran. And I have relatives in Israel, so it is an issue I care about! I’ve talked to a number of Iranians, and I have to say, I’ve never met one I didn’t like! By and large, they seem to me to be a very educated, reasonable people, who happen to be living under an oppressive regime. Particularly the younger generation – many of them seem set on doing as many “western” things as they can get away with without getting beaten up by the religious authorities! Bottom line, I believe that it’s only a matter of time before reform comes to Iran, and I think that the worst thing we can do at this point is to ramp up our rhetoric against them as a state. The Iranian government will just use that to unite the people against the evil Zionist imperialists, instead of focusing their anger where it belongs, on their theocratic, authoritarian government. The last Iranian revolution was hijacked by the Islamists who used the Iranian people’s resentment of foreign interference to consolidate their power. In my humble opinion, we need to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen the next time ’round.

    Fair enough. I respect your views there and where you’re coming from and will consider that some more.

    However, I will just point out that those nice Iranian people are ruled by a truly evil government that is threatening the world & trying to build nuclear bombs. What do we do about that? I don’t hate Iran or its people but I do think appeasement isn’t working and that sometimes evil has to be confronted head-on and beaten.

    I’ll also note that the “Arab spring” now seems to have resulted in the Islamists – Muslim brotherhood – taking power in Egypt. That whole region and so amy of the nations in it are it looks to me heading in very bad directions. I wish there were easier, nicer solutions to the problems raised by that. I wish the Arabs were willing to make peace properly and stop trying to kill and destroy others. It doesn’t seem like they are.

    @126. Nigel Depledge :

    “Gingrich you have my vote” (Quoting John Pold #32 – ed)
    So, obviously, his speech has reached you, at least. Maybe now you should consider exactly how Gingrich’s “vision” is supposed to come to pass?

    Gingrich’es speech – the best I’ve heard on this topic in many years – has reached me too and he’d have my vote too if I could vote for him.

    Despite the fact that I’d feel very conflicted about it and dislike the man immensely for his hypocrisy, some of his other policies and personal history. Despite the question marks over his reliability and trustworthiness. Newt is simply the only one of the three realistic Presidential contenders who still believes in the US manned space program and America taking the space leadership role in boldly going beyond our planet. Obama and Romney clearly do not. Gingrich is NO JFK but right now he’s the closest thing you have to him left.

  128. Messier Tidy Upper

    @125 . VinceRN :

    However, the upcoming election will either give us four more years of Obama, or it will give us Romney. Obama has already entirely removed any semblance of a manned space program from our near future, and Romney is unlikely to do anything to change that.

    ^ This exactly. So depressing. :-(

    I wish it wasn’t just Newt saying what Newt has said Moonbase ~wise. I wish the other candidates offered something as good or better. If they did then I’d be supporting them over Gingrich in a nano-second. But, alas, they don’t.

    @127. Jim :

    @92 MTU: Re: Newt Gingrich, you said he is “The only one to say just what I want to hear”. As much as I respect your opinions on many things, I’m afraid that Newt Gingrich has just sold you a bridge. If he makes the same speech in a non-space-related state I might give it a little more weight, but it certainly appears that he’s saying what he thinks whoever he’s talking to wants to hear.

    That may be the case, I guess. But the thing is Newt has at least raised the idea and is at least thinking big and positively about the US space future.

    I find it incredibly sad that the response has been so negative and mocking and calling the whole idea of a future US moon base “whacky” and “crazy” and stuff like that. We could have, really should have built one after Apollo and I suspect the Chinese or some other nation will prove that such a moon colony idea *is* possible and very beneficial – to them – one day, perhaps sooner than we think.

    @121. ND :

    Messier Tidy Upper – “Gingrich *is* the only Presidential candidate who is seriously talking about advancing US space policy. Talking about going back to the Moon to study and settle and build and explore and be bold.”
    Dude, the man says a lot of things, for the sole purpose of saying things in front of a crowd and getting attention. How do you know he’s serious about putting a US base on the moon?

    He certainly seemed pretty sincere and convincing in that speech and it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s joking or not serious.

    Okay he’s a politician and everything any politician says needs to be taken with a shaker full of salt. Could he just be lying? Well yeah. However, what he said there was certainly much better than what the other politicians have said on the topic.

    Can I say for 100% certain that Newt means & will do what he says? No. But that’s always the case with everything any politicial figure says and you just have to hope and judge for yourself. I think Gingrich sounded serious and like he truly meant and believed what he was saying.

    There’s only one way we’ll ever know for sure and that is if Newt wins the Republican nomination, goes on to win the election against Obama and then starts doing what he’s promised. Both the first two things there seem unlikely although not impossible. I now hope to see them – and even more so the third item on that sequence – happen but am not optimistic.

  129. Messier Tidy Upper

    @113. Solius :

    Gonçalo Aguiar wrote(@76): What the hell are you saying? His posts seem to indicate that he, Messier Tidy Upper, is an islamophobe; the mere mention of Palestine, Hamas, Iran,… ect, seems to provoke a response. Yet, he called me a troll.

    I very rarely call people trolls and never do so lightly. I called *you* a troll for very good reasons Solius because you are one – or at least in a couple of threads you have been one. You posted cherry-picked one historical incident to post an utterly off-topic attack on Israel and you behaved extremely poorly. I guess we do all have hot button topics that provoke reactions. What matters is that our arguments arereasonable and supported by the facts and not distorted misinformation like some of your previous remarks.

    I am not “Islamophobic” – since there is no such thing. A “phobia” is by definition an irrational, unjustified fear of something. Being concerned about and opposing a group that will proudly try to murder writers over books and cartoonists over cartooons and that has enagaged everywhere in terrorism and war. It is entirely rational, reasonable and normal to be concerned about and oppose a group that actually means you harm and is seeking to destroy you as at least a large number of Muslims are.

    I am quite happy for peaceful, moderate Muslims to live their lives and worship their religion as they choose – *provided* they stop the terrorist rubbish, stop trying to force their sharia laws and brutal cultural ways (burkas, honour-killings, wife-beatings, anti-semitic & anti-Western hate rants, etc..) upon the rest of us and behave in a civilised fashion fitting into our Western society like other ethnic and religious groups do.

    @117. Solius :

    MTU wrote: “The Arabs are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists, wish to destroy Israel and the West and keep their women enslaved, genitally mutilated and burka clad whereas as the Persians / Iranians are the ones who idolise homicide-suicide bomber terrorists… [wish to destroy Israel and the West and keep their women enslaved, genitally mutilated and burka clad or was that the other way around?”]
    Wow! Haters will hate.

    You strike me as quite a hater yourself, Solius. :roll:

    I also notice your attack on me was personal and offered no counter-argument or evidence against what my observation quoted there – which was a valid point made using some gallows humour.

    @97. Joseph G : “Here’s an interesting article: ‘Space Execs and Astronauts for Romney.'”

    Thanks for that. :-)

  130. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (132) said:

    I find it incredibly sad that the response has been so negative and mocking and calling the whole idea of a future US moon base “whacky” and “crazy” and stuff like that.

    The idea isn’t wacky or crazy.

    The time-line and lack of a plan to fund the project, however, are.

    We could have, really should have built one after Apollo

    Wait, who do you mean by “we”?

    Since you’re an Aussie, you can’t mean to count yourself as a USAian, so who exactly is “we”?

    and I suspect the Chinese or some other nation will prove that such a moon colony idea *is* possible and very beneficial – to them – one day, perhaps sooner than we think.

    And how would this be different from the USA having a manned moon base?

    As a Brit, I can be fairly confident that we won’t be the ones to colonise the moon – so it makes little odds to me who gets a long-term presence there first, as long as they do some cool science when they get there.

    Besides, whether it’s the USA, China or India that makes the first moon base, they’re all former British colonies anyway (OK, we only ever colonised two tiny little bits of China, but that’s why Hong Kong and Shanghai are the economic hubs that they have become). ;-)

  131. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (132) said:

    He certainly seemed pretty sincere and convincing in that speech and it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s joking or not serious.

    Okay he’s a politician and everything any politician says needs to be taken with a shaker full of salt. Could he just be lying? Well yeah. However, what he said there was certainly much better than what the other politicians have said on the topic.

    Can I say for 100% certain that Newt means & will do what he says? No. But that’s always the case with everything any politicial figure says and you just have to hope and judge for yourself. I think Gingrich sounded serious and like he truly meant and believed what he was saying.

    There’s only one way we’ll ever know for sure and that is if Newt wins the Republican nomination, goes on to win the election against Obama and then starts doing what he’s promised. Both the first two things there seem unlikely although not impossible. I now hope to see them – and even more so the third item on that sequence – happen but am not optimistic.

    Beware, MTU, politicians have the art of weaselling down to a fine art. They make it sound like they are promising to do something without actually committing themselves to getting anything actually happening.

    Even Kennedy’s most famous speech contained some weasel-phrases (“I believe this nation should commit itself . . .”).

  132. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (133) said:

    I am not “Islamophobic” – since there is no such thing. A “phobia” is by definition an irrational, unjustified fear of something.

    This is just insane.

    Of course there is such a thing as Islamophobia. You have claimed in the past that your hatred of all things Islam (yes, hatred, not fear) has a rational basis, but you have failed to follow this through with a rational argument.

    Sure, there are some ostensibly Muslim organisations of which we all should be afraid, quite rationally, but you extend that to all of the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, which is the attitude of a bigot. The activities of a few do not exemplify the activities of the rest.

    I’ve only ever got to know about eight or ten Muslims, but these few seem like pretty reasonable people to me. I am sure that Muslims on the whole are just like everyone else – a mixture of good and bad. They certainly behave no worse than we Europeans have done – it’s just that our terror tactics in the past had the imprimatur of official foreign policy.

  133. flip

    @133 MTU

    I am not “Islamophobic” – since there is no such thing. A “phobia” is by definition an irrational, unjustified fear of something. Being concerned about and opposing a group that will proudly try to murder writers over books and cartoonists over cartooons and that has enagaged everywhere in terrorism and war. It is entirely rational, reasonable and normal to be concerned about and oppose a group that actually means you harm and is seeking to destroy you as at least a large number of Muslims are.

    Come now, we’ve had discussions on this issue before. You most certainly do have a blind spot in your logic when it comes to issues in the Middle East. I will not label you, but I do have to point out that you have a considerably one-sided view when it comes to Middle Eastern terrorism. – Namely, that you don’t seem to think Israelis do it. And “fitting into our Western society like other ethnic and religious groups do. ” this just shows that once again you have a considerably narrow view of “West” vs “East”, whereby Western culture is wonderful and nothing else compares and everyone else should just get in line. Why does everyone else have to “fit in” with Western ideals? (Maybe you’d have done better writing “fitting into democratic society”)

    I don’t wish to start up the argument again – I really don’t and that’s not the point of my reply – but I won’t let you sneakily try to present yourself as balanced in this area as if previous conversations on it haven’t occured.

  134. Ryan

    This is ridiculous. Not his speech, but the very idea that you think this is too small of a time line to actually work, that the nation doesn’t have the capabilities, that it won’t create a better economy, that it won’t give us the resources to actually end the possibility of missile warfare, etc, etc, etc. Most of you have probably never done any research on this subject, so let me tell you what the nation can and cannot do. we cannot go to the moon until 2015 because then the falcon heavy lifter will definitively be working. we can build the technology we need to start mining, refining, and even producing products just from the regolith (for the idiots, it means lunar dirt or dust), we can make a huge amount of money from other countries from the water ice there, not o mention increase jobs in the aeropace industry greatly, and lastly, its mostly for the survival of our own species. granted, his whole idea of the 51st state is ridiculous, and the time line might be off, it will probably a goal completed at around 2030 for a full on permanent, self sufficient lunar colony. I am a college student and a space advocate, my only problem with naysayers is that they don’t do their research. get that done, then come back and we’ll talk.

  135. Bob Loblaw

    Ryan @140: “This is ridiculous. Not his speech, but the very idea that you think this is too small of a time line to actually work….”

    and then just 4 sentences later….

    “granted […] the time line might be off, it will probably a goal completed at around 2030″.

    I don’t think even Mitt Romney flip-flops that quickly.

    I also really liked your condescending definition of regolith for all us idiots who read a blog about space travel and exploration. After all, none of us have ever been to college so we couldn’t possibly have learned nearly as much as you have! Thanks for gracing us with your presence!

  136. Domenick

    Heard you speaking about this on CBC’s Day 6 program (http://www.cbc.ca/day6/blog/2012/02/03/episode-63–facebook-fortunes/).

    I recall you mentioned something about no one working on rocket thrusters for moon landings. I refer you to a contradictory tweet from Space X founder Elon Musk https://twitter.com/#!/elonmusk/status/164740558374445056

  137. Dan

    I wish it was so…man on the moon again is something that is a great goal, but to say by 2020 is an insult to all of us. With JWST and SLS sucking the life out of the NASA budgets there is just no way we can be on the moon by 2020. I am old enough that I saw two Saturn Vs take men to the moon. I had hoped that my children would be able to do the same someday. To understand the vision, to know what it is to dream and see that dream realized. Unfortunately with the leadership today, or rather the lack thereof, they may never see man on the moon. At some point we may have no living memory of that great event and how it unified us all, as stated from the moon … we “the people of the good Earth”.

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