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Sun, Aug 25, 2019

Former Speaker Gingrich Proposes Moon Base Sweepstakes

Prize Could Be As Much As $2 Billion To Establish A Lunar Base

It's well known that space travel is difficult, and expensive. But former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich is proposing that the U.S. government offer a $2 billion prize to a private company that can establish a lunar base.

Politico reports that Gingrich, along with others who are skeptical of NASA's ambitious plan to return to the Moon by 2024, want to see if private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin can establish such a base faster and less expensively than NASA, according to a summary of the plan shared with Politico.

NASA's return to the Moon is estimated to cost $50 billion or more.

Gingrich and others believe that private companies can make the plan a reality for far less money. In an interview, Gingrich said he thinks "people would be shocked how fast they can move."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, a co-author of the plan, said China is on a path to establish a lunar settlement in 20 years, while NASA's plan could take half a century. “We are not aggressive about it. We have the wrong strategy, the wrong ideas, the wrong doctrine. We are trapped in an industrial age model of thinking about space,” Kwast said.

Gingrich and his co-authors are trying to sell President Trump on the plan, but White House spokesman Will Boyington would not discuss any internal communications about the idea. NASA said it has not received any formal proposal. “At NASA we look forward to working with new partners as we focus on executing [Trump’s] Space Policy Directive 1, which instructs the agency to return American astronauts to the moon and pursue human exploration of Mars and the broader solar system," NASA spokeswoman Bettina Inclán told Politico via email. "NASA is implementing this plan through the Artemis program which will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024.”

CNet reports that SpaceX founder Elon Musk is at least intrigued by the concept. In a Tweet, Musk said "This is a great idea", to which Gingrich responded via Twitter "Very cool. Thanks Elon."

(Image from file)

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