Earlier this week, Newt Gingrich haughtily announced his plans to establish an American colony on the moon by the end of his second term as president. He laid out preliminary plans to fund the moon base by taking a portion of NASA's budget to use as prize money for private companies to do the leg work. The plans included the possibility of the moon colony petitioning for statehood once the population reached 13,000. It's no surprise that Gingrich's announcement came days before the Republican debate in Cocoa, Florida, the so-called "Space Coast".
Other than the good people of Cocoa, whose livelihoods depend so deeply on the space industry, many have scoffed at Gingrich's fantastical plan, as if it came out of a work of science fiction. During the CNN debate this week, Mitt Romney took a crack at Gingrich's proposal saying, "If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.’” Rick Santorum added his viewpoint of the economic irresponsibility of the plan, while Ron Paul also weighed in, making some comment about how he wants to go to the moon or something.
It's easy to be negative on such visionary plans. Especially with a plan as insanely flawed as one for a moon colony in eight years. But once you wade through the swamp of insignificant problems like funding and managing this program, there is beaucoup merit to be found. With tourism being such a large industry here on Earth, why wouldn't the same hold true for the moon? I know I'd like to see what it feels like to smash a golf ball into low orbit and do some sweet tricks in a low gravity moon buggy. The tourism would bolster the slipping air transport and cruise industries. It's been found that some people can't handle the relative isolation of visiting a small island for too long, this is referred to as island fever. If people are being babies and crying to come home from a vacation on a sun bathed tropical island for a few months, think how quickly and frequently people will get moon fever. The airline industry could make a killing with their standard 3000% charge for one-way tickets, alone. As for cruises to the moon, there aren't nearly as many icebergs lurking out in space, ready to sneak up on unsuspecting cruise ships and there's a very low risk of running aground. Also, no space pirates. Yet. Furthermore, the moon's supply of some pricey minerals is many times that of Earth's. The moon is pretty much a giant cash cow and we need to get in there while the getting is good. And who can forget the Helium 3. Helium 3, people!
The only beef I have with Gingrich's plan is that he claims he wants to accomplish this before the Chinese. Well, way to blow the element of surprise there, big guy. If the Chinese weren't already thinking about this, they definitely are now, probably.
Did you know they think the Man in the Moon is actually a woman...