By ROB WAUGH
Daily Mail UK
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich promised to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he’s elected as U.S. president.
Gingrich, the former House speaker, told a Florida audience that he wanted to develop a commercial space industry in line with the airline boom of the 1930s, leading to a permanent base on the moon. He also wanted to expand plans for the exploration of Mars. Russia and China would ‘not come close’, said Gingrich.
Gingrich said his plan would benefit ‘science, tourism and manufacturing’. Gingrich, a long-time space enthusiast, also said he wanted to expand exploration of Mars, saying NASA could pay for ambitious plans by teaming up with the private sector.
The plans are a vote-winner in Florida. The region is primarily known for NASA and was still suffering from a round of federal cuts to the space program last year.
The idea of a moon base was an element of George Bush’s policy, and Nasa has detailed plans for a base which was to be constructed by 2024. The plans were cancelled under Barack Obama’s administration.
Nasa also has plans for further missions to Mars after its Curiosity rover, which will arrive there this August. Gingrich responded to criticism that he was ‘grandiose’.
‘The Wright Brothers standing at Kitty Hawk were grandiose. John F. Kennedy was grandiose,’ Gingrich said, according to the Washington Post. ‘I accept the charge that I am grandiose and that Americans are instinctively grandiose.’ The plans appeared to thrill the 700-strong crowd.
According to the Miami Herald, Gingrich said: ‘By the end of my second term. We will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American… Does that mean I’m visionary? You betcha.’ He added: ‘We clearly have the capacity that Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to us.’