Will Newt Gingrich's dream of a moon base by 2020 come true? Will it be American or Chinese? (Image credit: Dynamic Science)

Will Newt Gingrich's dream of a moon base by 2020 come true? Will it be American or Chinese? (Image credit: Dynamic Science)

The Republican primaries have certainly ejected a lot of muck into the political atmosphere, much like a large, destructive asteroid would throw up debris and dust for miles if it were to strike terra firma. For what is to follow, the space analogy seems particularly appropriate. Mr. Gingrich, who is hoping to unseat Mitt Romney as the Republican favourite, recently visited Florida, home of the NASA Shuttle Program, where he declared that by the end of his second term, he would establish a permanent US base on the Moon. Further, once there is a large enough number of people occupying such a Moon base complex, the Moon could then be “ceded” to the US as its 51st state.

Ridiculous or not, you be the judge of that. Perhaps today it is, but maybe in 20 or 50 years it won’t be. The fact that the major powers will rekindle a space race is almost a certain proposition. China has announced that it will be launching a large number of satellites in the next 2 years and its plans for a permanent space station have also been made public. Private companies, such as SpaceX in the US, have been working diligently on making launches less expensive. There will certainly be a push to tap into the vast riches of space at some point in the not too distant future. Whether it will be as soon as Newt promises, or whether private enterprise will even be the catalyst, remains to be seen.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, scientist and prominent TV personality, was interviewed by MSNBC on just this subject. Dr. Tyson believes that it is not for private enterprise, but for government to lead the way back to the moon and back into deep space. At the end of the day, Newt and his Republican comrades cannot expect government to be cut back and NASA budgets to shrink, while also predicting bold possibilities that require R&D funding and government investments.

Do you think Newt is on to something? Or is he just on something? Do you agree with Dr. Tyson? Take a look at the interview video and join us in the comments section.

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