Quantcast

«

»

Jan 28 2012

Newt’s new windmill: a moon base by 2020

That’s right, Newt Gingrich wants a permanent American-controlled moon base by the end of his second term in office. Don’t worry Republicans, he’s not suggesting, you know, actual funding by the government or anything — just that private enterprise will, somehow, for some inexplicable reason, become motivated to find ways to do it.

Speaking in Florida, hit hard by the loss of a large number of space-affiliated jobs, Mr. Gingrich said Wednesday that if elected, “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.”

He said he believed such a project was possible with commercial and private efforts. According to USA Today, Mr. Gingrich said he had “a romantic belief it is really part of our destiny,” adding that the current state of the space program was a “tragedy.”


But his delusion and utter lack of understanding of the reality of space travel, its difficulties, and the magical hand-waving power of Republicans’ second deity after Jesus, the Invisible Hand Of The Market, does not stop there.

The paper also said he believed there would be a “continuous propulsion system” that would allow travel to Mars in a shorter span of time.

One cannot just assume that technology will be changed to meet your particular needs for your particular windmill-tilting, just by suggesting government get out of the picture and putting the onus of responsibility on the corporations. That is magical thinking. Sure, it MIGHT happen, but you can’t assume it WILL happen, especially where you aren’t willing to put any money into actually researching this shit.

Neil deGrasse Tyson tore this nonsense apart on the Martin Bashir show:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And Gizmodo covers why exactly Newt’s fantasyland deity worship is ultimately illegal. The main reason is, by international treaty, space is streng verboten as far as nationalist imperialism. One cannot extend one’s country’s influence beyond the confines of planet Earth. Any project involving claiming territory anywhere off-planet must be an international project.

This is, of course, well beyond Newt’s ability to comprehend, considering his and his fellow conservatives’ magical thinking with regard to private enterprise. There are huge problems with the idea of a permanent moon base, not the least of which being it will likely not be self-sustaining, and will require a great deal of private capital to create and maintain, with precious little profit motive. Sure, the scientific motive is absurdly high — just think of the possibilities with regard to telescopes! — but that’s not enough to motivate a company to pour billions and billions of dollars into a project with little return-on-investment.

8 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Lycanthrope

    I was going to ask, “Isn’t that wildly illegal?”, but you covered that base.

    Isn’t there some guy out there claiming total ownership of the Moon, selling small plots of lunar territory to paying customers? Claiming he can do this because of a loophole where no nation is allowed to control the Moon, but private citizens have no such restriction? Am I making this up, or is this real? If there is such a guy, obviously very few take him seriously, but is that claim technically true, or (as I suspect) is it a straight-out lie to fuel the scam?

    adding that the current state of the space program was a “tragedy.”

    You mean, because of lack of government funding?

    Also, even if private ventures could and did establish a moon base in the next eight years, wouldn’t it remain a private holding? Yes, the company or companies that funded it would be American ones, but it wouldn’t have any ties to the American government without some type of prior agreement… I just don’t understand what Gingrich thinks the situation should be.

  2. 2
    feralboy12

    Newt is obviously going for a JFK moment here; what he doesn’t seem to understand is that JFK made his push on the heels of a successful flight by Alan Shepard, with knowledge of the Soviet’s success with Yuri Gagarin, and during a time when the competition with the USSR was providing motivation to advance space science (Sputnik moment, anyone?).
    And now here we are with the Shuttle retired, no one has left Earth orbit for nearly 40 years, we don’t even have a freaking space capsule, and Newt thinks we’re going to put up permanent moon bases in less time than it took to land two people there for a few hours.
    All due to the magic of the private sector, which will invest the necessary money with no idea how to make any of it back. Oh wait–we’re going to offer wonderful prizes.
    I suspect Newt’s pipe dream would likely run afoul of the paraphernalia laws in a few states.

  3. 3
    Alecthar

    I think the real issue with this is that, if American enterprise is involved, our moonbase will probably be an overhyped, style-over-substance moonbase that doesn’t match up to those made by Europeans or the Japanese, all put together by a bunch of underage Thai people working for little to no money.

    And while I’ve no real objection to having my sneakers or personal electronics fail randomly due to the above policies, it seems like there would be safety issues involved when you get into lunar flight and residence.

  4. 4
    Zinc Avenger

    Not to worry! International treaties are with foreign people, who don’t vote in elections, and so their opinions can be safely discarded.

    Foreigners exist to hate, exploit, or fear – or preferably all three at once. The very idea that a President of the United States should have to even have to know about an international treaty is some kinda commie socialist thinking.

  5. 5
    LaPlace

    An interesting bit of trivia.
    America spent FOUR times the entire cost to the Apollo program on the Iraq war.

  6. 6
    Aliasalpha

    Oh someone just send him some DVDs of Space 1999 and tell him the moonbase is real, he’ll probably believe it. That or start plotting another affair, this time with catherine schell

  7. 7
    Robert B.

    It’s funny that what Gingrich misunderstood was not the science or engineering aspects of his idea, but the history and politics – which are exactly what he claims are his specialties.

    The treaties on space neutrality are wind up being, I’m fairly sure, a temporary part of international law. The thing is, the things we can currently do in space are exploration, communication, observation, and science – all things that lend themselves very well to being shared. But someday, people are going to be living in space, we’re going to have industry there. What would it mean to live – or better yet, to be born – in an “international” colony? What laws would you follow? What rights would you have? What elections would you vote in? And it’s possible to imagine an “international” mining company or manufacturing plant… but who gets to keep the money? When space becomes a place for residence and industry, in addition to the things done there now, either the treaties on space neutrality will have to be changed, or countries will need to develop radical new ways to collaborate and share control. The latter wouldn’t necessarily be bad… but the former is much more likely.

    As for the “continuous propulsion system,” that’s actually a real thing – it’s not like Newt was proposing the warp drive. It just means a reaction drive that, unlike a chemical rocket, is “cheap” enough in terms of mass of fuel that it can be left on for a long time. Since we’re talking about space, this constant acceleration just keeps adding up, so a continuous propulsion system can be very useful on a long trip – a Japanese vehicle, the Hayabusa, has already been past Mars’ orbit and back on a continuous propulsion system (specifically an ion drive), to bring back samples from an asteroid.

    But while an ion drive or other CPS can stay on for a long time, the actual thrust, the force of the propulsion, is relatively weak. This is acceptable for small unmanned vehicles, which don’t need as much force to get going, but manned vehicles are much more massive, and a CPS would have a very hard time imparting useful accelerations. In other words, while a CPS actually might be faster for sending a probe to Mars, if we want to send people, it would probably be slower than a rocket. (Barring big tech advances, of course, which, as you rightly point out, Gingrich has no reason to assume.)

  8. 8
    Trebuchet

    It’s a no-lose for Gingrich, actually. In the unlikely event that he’s elected AND a moon base magically appears by 2020, he claims all the credit without having contributed in the least. Otherwise he simply blames the failure on liberals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>