What did Newt Gingrich REALLY say about space?

The purpose of today's blog is to illuminate what has been said about space and not to promote a particular candidate.  Comments are welcome, but rude or disparaging comments, insults, or political comments outside the scope of space policy will be deleted.

So, a lot of debate and some misinformation and, shall we say, politically motivated hyperbole, about Newt Gingrich's proclamation that he wants a moonbase by 2020.  I looked all over for transcripts of the speeches that said that, but either they don't exist or they're buried in all the debate, misinformation and hyperbole.  So I found videos of his speeches and transcribed them for you:

Why not post the videos?  This way we can see exactly what he said without the emotional inflection or the audience reaction, which can cloud people's reactions.  You can easily go to YouTube to see them.  I've highlighted a couple of phrases to comment on.

From the Debates: 
Question: Would you put more tax dollars into the space race and commit to putting a man on Mars instead of relying on the private sector?

Gingrich:  The two are not incompatible.  For example, most of the great breakthroughs in aviation in the ‘20s and ‘30s were the result of prizes.  Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize.  I would like to see vastly more of the money spent encouraging the private sector into very aggressive experimentation, and I’d like to see a leaner NASA.  I don’t think building a bigger bureaucracy and having a greater number of people sit in rooms and talk gets you there.  

Candidates are attacking Gingrich for wanting to fund a half-trillion dollar space station with our tax dollars.  Actually, Gingrich says here (and below) that he wants to private sector to fund the station, but will offer prizes--much like we're doing now for manned flights to the ISS.  Later, he said he wants that money to come out of NASA's existing budget.  I could not find the speech itself, but did find this from Discover online

Gingrich wants to pioneer space without a huge standing government bureaucracy and with investments by private industry. To help lure companies and research organizations to space, Gingrich proposes to spend 10 percent of NASA's budget, which is currently $17.8 billion, for prizes for an array of competitions.

The idea is similar to what the X Prize Foundation did to spur the first private human spaceships in 2004. The winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize, SpaceShipOne, become the model for a commercial spaceship, currently undergoing testing, that is expected to begin passenger surborbital spaceflights in a year or so.

But if we had a series of goals that we were prepared to offer prizes for there’s every reason to believe you have a lot of folks in this country and around the world who would put up an amazing amount of money and would make the space coast literally hum with activity because they’d be drawn to achieve these prizes.  

Going back to the moon, permanently.  Getting to Mars as rapidly as possible.  Building a series of space stations and developing commercial space.   There are a whole series of things that you can do that could be dynamic that are more than just “better government bureaucracy;” they’re fundamentally leapfrogging into a world where you’re incentivizing people who are visionaries and people in the private sector to invest very large amounts of money in finding very romantic and exciting futures.

From a Florida press conference about the future of space:  

The weirdest thing I’ve ever done (because sooner or later (Romney’s) researchers will find it)…
At one point early in my career, I introduced the Northwest Ordinance for Space, and I said when we got—I think the number was 13,000—when we have 13,000 Americans living on the moon, they can petition to become a state. …

I wanted every young American to say to themselves, “I could be one of those 13,000.  I could be a pioneer.  I need to study science and math and engineering.  I need to learn how to be a technician.  I can be part of building a bigger, better future.  I can be part of building a bigger, better future.  I can actually go out and live the future, looking at the solar system and being part of a generation of courageous people who do something big and bold and heroic.  

And I will as President encourage the introduction of the Northwest Ordinance for Space to put a market down that we want Americans to think boldly about the future, and we want Americans to go out and study hard and work hard and together we’re going to unleash the American people to rebuild the country we love.  

I’m going to make a set of observations about how to achieve those goals:

By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American.  We will have commercial, near-earth activities that include science, tourism and manufacturing, and are designed to create a robust industry precisely on the model of the development of the airlines in the 1930s because it is in our interest to acquire so much interest in space that we clearly have a capacity that the Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to matching.  And by the end of 2020, we will have the first continuous propulsion in space capable of getting to Mars in a remarkably short time because I am sick of being told we have to be timid, and I am sick of being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old.  

"Chinese and Russians"  Here, I see comments disparaging Gingrich for using fear tactics and "the Red Menace."  I can only think, "Grow up, people."  These two nations are our most viable competitors in manned space.  And I, for one, would prefer NOT to have to depend on the Russians to take us to Mars.
"Limited to technologies that are 50 years old."  Amen to that.  However, I also don't want to have the "let's change our focus every administration" mentality that NASA has been working under.  By encouraging commercial industry and rewarding progress, we can do that.

And honestly, if we truly inspire the entrepreneurial spirits of America, we may get some of this stuff a lot faster.

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