The United States will have a permanent manned colony on the moon by 2020 if Newt Gingrich is in charge, the Republican presidential hopeful announced today (Jan. 25).

Gingrich laid out this goal during a speech in the city of Cocoa, on Florida’s Space Coast. He also said that near-Earth space would be bustling with commercial activity by 2020, and that America would possess a next-generation propulsion system by then, allowing the nation to get astronauts to Mars quickly and efficiently.

“By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American,” Gingrich said.

The former Speaker of the House made no apologies for the boldness of his amibitions, which depend primarily on the emergence of a vibrant commercial spaceflight industry. He said the U.S. space program needs a kick in the pants like the one President John F. Kennedy gave it in 1961, when he promised to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

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