The former Speaker of US House of Representatives has promised to build a permanent American base on the Moon by 2020 if he is elected president in 2012


Unveiling an election agenda that is literally out o

f this world, a leading Republican White House hopeful has promised to build a permanent American base on the Moon, an idea termed by his rivals as a wild dream and unaffordable for a country experiencing one of its worst economic crisis, PTI reports.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of US House of Representatives, promised to establish a permanent base on the Moon by 2020 if he is elected president.

The issue figured prominently at the second and last Republican presidential debate held ahead of the Florida primary on January 31.

At a campaign event in Florida on Wednesday, Gingrich said he would like to have ” an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.” ” I believe by the use of prizes, by the use of incentives, by opening up the spaceport so that its available on a ready basis for commercial flight, by using common sense – for example, the Atlas V could easily be fixed into a man- capable vehicle so you didnalt39t have to rely on a Russian launch or Chinese launch. There are many things you can do to leverage accelerating the development of space,” he said.

” Thats an enormous expense,” said Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts and one of Gingrichs Republican rivals.

” Right now I want to be spending money here. Of course the space coast has been badly hurt, and I believe in a very vibrant and strong space programme,” he said.

” I believe in a manned space programme. Ialt39d like to see whether they believe in the same thing. Ialt39m not looking for a colony on the moon. I think the cost of that would be in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions.

Ialt39d rather be rebuilding housing here in the US,” Romney said.

” I agree that we need to bring good minds from the private sector much more involved in NASA than the government bureaucracy we have. But lets just be honest. We run a USD 1.2 trillion deficit right now.

Wealt39re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar, and to go out there and promise new programs and big ideas, thats a great thing to maybe get votes, but its not a responsible thing when you have to go out and say that we have to start cutting programs, not talking about how to grow them,” said Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania Senator, another Republican White House hopeful.

” I donalt39t think we should go to the moon,” said Ron Paul, the Congressman from Texas.

However, Gingrich differed with all of them.

” It is really important to go back to what John F Kennedy said in May of 1961 when he said, we will go to the moon in this decade. No American had orbited the Earth. The technology didnalt39t exist. And a generation of young people went into science and engineering and technology, and they were tremendously excited, and they had a future,” he said.

” The programme I envision would probably end up being 90 percent private sector.

But it would be based on a desire to change the government rules and change the government regulations to get NASA out of the business of trying to run rockets and to create a system where its easy for private sector people to be engaged,” he argued.

” I want to see us move from one launch occasionally to six or seven launches a day because so many private enterprises walk up and say, wealt39re prepared to go do it,” he said.

” I do not want to be the country that, having gotten to the moon first, turned around and said it doesnalt39t really matter; let the Chinese dominate space; what do we care? I think that is a path of national decline.

And I am for America being a great country, not a country in decline,” Gingrich said.

Romney said being a businessman, he would fire anyone who came to him with such an idea.

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