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Some Legal and Policy Ramifications of Newt Gingrich’s Plan to Colonize the Moon

Monday, January 30, 2012


Speaking last week to an audience on Florida’s “space coast,” Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich vowed to establish a colony on the Moon by the end of his “second term,” i.e., by the end of 2020.  What’s more, Gingrich made clear that he wanted the lunar outpost to be a U.S. project, expressing openness to the possibility of statehood for the Moon colony upon its reaching the necessary minimum population.

For Americans who live on planet Earth, the speech may have seemed to be simply one more piece of evidence that Gingrich’s reputation as an idea man is at best a mixed blessing.  Or, as former Republican Senator and 1996 Presidential nominee Bob Dole recently observed about Gingrich’s time in the House of Representatives: “Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall.”

But before succumbing to the temptation to mock Gingrich’s grandiosity—which he expressly embraced in the space coast speech, comparing himself to Lincoln, among others—it is worth asking whether there is anything to Gingrich’s plan.  Although the particulars of the Gingrich Moon-colonization plan are flawed, the basic concept is worth discussing.

Technological Limits

Before evaluating the legal and policy ramifications of Moon colonization, we might ask whether it is technologically feasible.  Promising in 2012 to establish a Moon colony by 2020 looks quite similar to President Kennedy’s 1961 goal of putting a man on the Moon by 1970.  Given that we were able to accomplish Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon using 1960s technology, it might seem like a relatively small step to colonize the Moon using modern technology.

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  • nvrpc

    Just say No to the moon and space travel of any kind and YES to spy sats and drones.. We need to take care of US first and to he-ll with a new planet or trying to find aliens. We have lots of invasions from all over the world that needs to be stopped right hear on earth.

    • daves

      #10 In 2003, Newt Gingrich boldly promoted George W. Bush’s prescription drug bill. Because of that bill, the federal government is now facing an additional 17 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.

    • Evan

      Perhaps if we didn’t have so many addicts the cost would be lower?

    • budman

      nvrpc: I am not so sure of the moon colonization but I do know other nations are working on using space for war capability such as knocking out satellites and even the possibility of directing it from space.
      To counter we must be capable of eliminating this threat or we become sitting ducks. The Chinese government has already destroyed one of their satellites by using another one in space and likely as advanced as we are in laser technology.

    • SM

      What is the matter with all of you conservatives??? I remember when JFK (a Democrat) proposed putting a man on the moon and no one thought it was a bad idea. The idea was applauded because of all of the new technology it would create and the real stimulus it would give to the economy (and it did). It would provide a purpose and direction to our country and that everyone could get behind.

      Now we have one of our own (a Republican) suggesting a forward looking idea and everyone is throwing trash at him??? Again I say, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Where is everyone’s common sense about what is good for the future of the country, or is everyone so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they can’t see past the end of their nose?

      Now is the time to rally around the flag and promote a common cause that is good for the present economy and the future of our children. The idea of a colony on the moon is a good idea, period. So let us put aside our pettiness and get some good old fashion Americanism going with a national referendum on what country will lead the world into the 22nd century. Will the USA be the leader or will it be the follower?

    • john j


    • Evan

      True, but if you look, Kennedy contributed greatly to the expansion of the existing debt, and a not insignificant amount of that was directly attributable to NASA.

    • Lee

      SM dont look now but if you took JFK and put him in 2012 political arena he would be a right wing conservative now days.

    • http://PatriotNewsUpdate JOHN KING

      Not only is it the best idea I have heard is quite some time, I know that it will help to balance things out, and put the world on notice that we allways have been, are now, and allways will be #1 in the world, Bar None!!!.

    • IllegalAlienPOTUS

      It will definitely change NASA back to what it is supposed to be doing instead of making nice withe the Muslims….

      this is not a bad idea, but we have to get things fixed here in the USA on earth first.
      until then we don’t have the money!!!!

    • john j

      I’ll take as many thumbs down as you want , but I truly believe that Newt , had a tremendous brain fart when he let that dribble out of his pie hole !

  • Captain PJ

    Maybe the moon base isn’t sucha a bad idea. Perhaps somewhere down the road we can create a system of prisons or penal colonies for political criminals…like some of the ones occupying the White House and Congress now?

  • brunch20

    It seem that our economy, increased regulations and loss of freedoms, repeal of Obamacare, mounting debt, government over spending, housing crisis, etc. should be the focus of all the republican candidates. I believe that space exploration is important, but should be properly prioritized.

  • Shane

    Newt is too arrogant to admit that bringing up moon bases was a bad idea. We can’t afford moon bases; the Chinese have all of our money. Give it up, Newt.

  • fliteking

    Occupy Wall Street announced today that they want to send some hippies to Uranus.

  • gary

    Note: People thought putting a man on the moon was a wacky idea. Go New’t but get the economy and the liberals and the terrorist out of our government. Allen West as your VP

  • Michael J Surwin

    The moon, scientists have said, is a source of potentially unlimited
    energy in the form of the helium 3 isotope — a near perfect fuel
    source! It is potent, nonpolluting and causes virtually no radioactive
    byproduct in a fusion reactor. Gerald Kulcinski of the Fusion Technology
    Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison estimated the moon’s
    helium 3 would have a cash value of perhaps $4 billion a ton in terms of
    its energy equivalent in oil. Scientists reckon there are about 1 million
    tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the earth for thousands
    of years. The equivalent of a single space shuttle load or roughly 30 tons
    could meet all U.S. electric power needs for a year!!!

    • Big D

      You need to demonstrate fusion first. Nobody will invest in pie in the sky except the government, and they (we) are broke.

      Can’t afford to go to the moon, for that matter. Maybe some entrepreneurs will figure out a profitable use for the moon and go there.

    • Lane

      The green weenies should be all over this in support. This will force development of non-fossil fuel energy sources. Last I checked there was no oil on the moon.

      You tell companies they can have their own private lab to do R&D in an environment where they won’t be sued out of business when something goes wrong they will jump at it. You get govt out of it as much as possible and the price will go down. Besides isn’t this want NASA is supposed to be doing instead of making people feel better about themselves?

  • Rusty

    It would seem appropriate to me if the OWSers were to inhabit the moon in order to ensure the equal treatment of moon rocks.
    Governor ‘Moonbeam’ of California could be King.
    They could also establish their own ‘fair’ taxation system, and we could watch and see how long it took for the successful ones (presuming there were any) to seek relief from the onerous burdens of the rest of the freeloaders.
    Of course that will probably preclude any mining of the helium 3 isotope.
    We certainly wouldn’t want to exploit and deplete the Moon’s natural resources.

  • tod

    Instead of wasting money doing that,why don’t they just cut the crap,and show us the flying saucers their hiding from us,and make it alot quicker,easier,and cheaper to do it ???

    • ChillaKilla

      tod, you’ve been trying for a long time and have yet to succeed in posting anything having an ounce of wit or intelligence. As the piece of dogcrap you are, if I were you I’d give it up; but I realize that it’s just not possible for a turd to admit it has no intelligence, since a turd has no capacity to measure its own inexistent IQ.

  • Charles Higley

    Russia and China have every intention of colonizing the Moon and mining it for helium-3, the one fuel there is for viable nuclear fusion power, but rare on Earth and much more abundant on the Moon.

    It is stupid for us not to get in this race, or are we always supposed to be a second class nation and have to buy our fuel from Russia or China forever, a la the wishes of our Undocumented Worker-in-Chief.

    By the way, we hold almost as much money in Chinese bonds as they hold of our debt. A simple swap and we would be almost even. They DO NOT own us when you check the big picture.

  • John

    What a buch of horsecrap like we don’t have enough problems here. Instead of pie in the sky
    Porkbarrel projects Newt should address the problems at hand, like illegal immigration and poverty in our country while weeding out the blood sucking leeches in D.C.

  • Doodlebug

    It’s too bad the space program was abandoned.

  • Robert Bullock

    When JFK announced that he planned to reach the moon within the decade back in the 60s I wonder if everyone was this closed minded? That seemed to be a daunting task at that time and an impossible mission. But it was a GOAL to achieve and we did achieve it!

    It was expensive, but we gained so much more from it than we spent. The leaps forward we made in technology and medicine were just a small part of the dividends we reaped. If we were to set this goal again how much further could we advance ourselves in medicine and other tech?

    America works well when it has an impossible goal to achieve.

    • Robert Bullock

      Seems to me that military and space were the two things that advanced us as a people during my lifetime. That is where the scientific advances were made. The internet began as a military network, aluminum foil came from the space program and advanced materials like Mylar and Kelvar came from military and space research. The goal is one thing, but the offshoots of that goal are what pays the dividends.

    • Lee

      You are wrong, the internet was developed on college campuses, but was funded by departments because it may have had military uses but it was a bunch of eggheads at colleges that developed it. also it was CERN that developed the WWW. Now spout more lies.

  • jug

    Good idea! Maybe a bit over ambitious, but that is what real progress takes. That is in direct opposition of the liberal definition of the word progress. (They have taken a positive word and made a negative out of it!)

  • cheryl lynn

    I remember thinking that Kennedy idea of going to the moon was far fetched, but we did it. I am now more open minded and I like the idea that Gingrich is a visionary. He may use some of these ideas to our betterment and may table others. This country needs to think big so we can return our country to its former greatness.

  • ChillaKilla

    To all the skeptics here I would say “Oh ye of little faith…!” I don’t believe Newt is too far off the track on suggesting colonization of the moon. Rather than seeing it as some hare-brained idea, anyone with a modicum of intelligence would see in that an implied promise from a man who having balanced the budget for 4 years under a democRAT admin. believes he has the capacity to bring out this country out of the economic doldrums those tax and spend neo-commies have put us on. Once having done that, Newt believes he can deliver as well a project that will restore the pride of the country which is at such low ebb given the destructive policies of obama.

  • Tom

    Hmmmm…. Honestly, this is coming whether anyone wants it or not, agrees or not, or thinks we can do it or not. What do you think all the latest space themed TV is about, Appolo 18, etc…? Why do you think obama trashed NASA with islam outreach while turning over space to the Russians and Chinese? We have been sidestepped because the government cannot control real U.S. free Americans and the world is going ahead with this any way. The only question is if what the governments really know about space will be admitted first or if they will still lie, stonewall and murder while keeping silent.

  • Pam in OH

    What part of $16 trillion in debt does Newt NOT understand??? I’m all for the space program, and I’m not opposed to moon colonization, but we need to get our fiscal house in order first and foremost!!! One more reason I DON’T support Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum 2012!!!

  • stephen russell

    Lunar Base benefits:
    worldwide Jobs
    expand Science & tech like in Apollo era.
    Privitze Moon.
    House prisoners on dark side of Moon.
    Water for deep space missions.
    H2 for Fuel.
    Long Term Jobs
    (like JFK Man to Moon speech).
    Use archieve data etc to make Lunar Base.
    More can be done.

  • Don Vandervelde

    Tom ‘n Pam, good posts, tnx. Of course we can and should colonize the moon (and Mars). It should be done without any new taxes, the American way; NASA’s budget, billions, should be completely converted into prizes for the brave and hardy souls who successfully create the colonies. It can then be repaid from any profits, when its private property rights would be recognized by the US. Excelsior!! Think about it, investors ccould be buying stock today. What fun to sit back and watch teir progress.