Tag: Newt Gingrich

The Newt-onian Mechanics of Building a Permanent Moon Base

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

Phil Plait, the creator of the Discover blog Bad Astronomy, is an astronomer, lecturer, and author. He’s written two books, dozens of magazine articles, and 12 bazillion blog articles. 

On Wednesday, January 25th, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich spoke to a crowd of supporters in Florida. In a short speech guaranteed to create a buzz—online, as well as among space enthusiasts—he declared that if elected president, “… by the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.”

That’s a pretty bold statement. Unfortunately, it’s also impossible.

I’ll note he followed that up with something that is far more likely:

We will have commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism, and manufacturing, and are designed to create a robust industry precisely on the model of the development of the airlines in the 1930s, because it is in our interest to acquire so much experience in space that we clearly have a capacity that the Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to matching.

That’s a lovely thought, but while that’s a more realistic goal, it’s likely to happen whether or not Gingrich makes it to the White House.

 


Private Parts

His second statement is the easiest to discuss, and to dismiss. I agree with the sentiment, but what he’s saying is already well on its way to being reality. We have several private companies vying to create commercial activities in orbit, including tourism and science. SpaceX has successfully launched rockets to orbit several times, and they are planning to do a rendezvous with the space station in the coming months as a demonstration that they can take supplies there. Virgin Galactic has shown it can do sub-orbital flights, and several other companies are on their way to space. Manufacturing is a far more difficult goal, but once a more reliable and cheaper method of getting to orbit is established, it’s an inevitable outcome.

With or without any possible future President Gingrich, private companies in space is already happening.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Top Posts
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

The Crux

A collection of bright and big ideas about timely and important science from a community of experts.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »