Newt Gingrich is going to the moon.
At least, if he becomes the Republican Candidate, and gets elected president … twice. Then, after all that, we’ve got a lunar party, baby!
Earlier this week, Gingrich promised that “by the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon.” Gingrich hopes that, in 2020, the lunar base will have become a colony and perhaps even have enough inhabitants to apply as the 51st state of the union.
First of all, this sounds straight up fantastic. I absolutely love science fiction and would be ecstatic if there was a permanent base on the moon, if for nothing else but the simple joy of knowing that such a thing exists. In the words of Liz Lemon, protagonist on the television show “30 Rock”, “I want to go to there.”
The idea is super tantalizing, and apparently not too crazy. According to CTV news, a moon base has backing in mainstream science. Until three years ago, the idea was actually built into US policy and billions of dollars were being spent on such research.
Second, and more importantly, what the heck is Gingrich thinking? When I actually dwell on this idea, it just seems stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I love NASA (really, though), but I just think there are more pressing matters that the United States should deal with. I would rather the future president utilize America’s resources in ways that help the common people, not space cadets.
But what’s even more annoying for me is that Gingrich assumes that a colony on the moon would become part of the United States. Permanently placing humans on the moon should be, and probably will have to be, an international effort.
Other countries besides the United States have a history of space exploration, not to mention promising prospects. Besides Russia, China is constantly looking towards the future beyond our terrestrial home. The China Lunar Exploration Program has realistic plans set in place for robotic missions to the moon and a manned lunar landing sometime between 2025-2030.
More annoying than the idea that the United States wouldn’t ask for help in setting base on the moon, is the offensive implication that the earth’s one and only satellite belongs to the United States. Yes, the United States first put a man on the moon (I know we did! I won’t hear anything else!), but it doesn’t belong to the US.
How can it? The moon affects all peoples of the planet. The Leader of the Free World doesn’t deserve, and isn’t prepared for, the potential power of the moon.
When I heard Gingrich’s plan for permanent lunar residency, the cynic inside me laughed at him. At the same time, the Star Wars-fanatic-buried-under-a-layer-of-embarrassment side of me geeked out hardcore. That laughter was more gleeful than scornful.