Political affiliations aside, I'll always love Newt Gingrich and his dream of building a Moon colony. Gingrich infamously promised in 2012 that if he were elected as president, we'd have an American base on the lunar surface by the end of his second term in 2020.
Well, turns out another Republican candidate doesn't think Newt's lunar ambitions are all that nuts. This week while campaigning in New Hampshire, presidential candidate Jeb Bush was asked how he would reinvigorate the space program if he were elected, and he brought up Newt's Moon base idea. "People started laughing, and I’m thinking, ‘Really?’ I think it’s pretty cool," Bush said to a crowd of supporters, saying there's nothing wrong with having big, aspirational goals. He didn't promise anything specific about the idea, but he noted that America should partner with commercial spaceflight entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to turn our spaceflight dreams into reality.
Critics have always balked at Newt's Moon colony proposal. His plan didn't have many specifics, and it was extremely ambitious in regards to its timeline. Plus, it came from the same guy who wants to shoot space lasers at North Korea and hire nine-year-olds as janitors. But still, space policy isn't a big topic of discussion during election cycles, so it was refreshing to have a candidate that not only cared about space travel, but had big ideas for our cosmic future.
"It’s not in the absence of taking care of the hungry or the poor," Bush said. "We’re a big country, we’re a generous country, and the benefits of this are far more than people realize." After the event, Bush told reporters he'd think on it some more.
Honestly, a lunar colony would serve as a great spaceport
Look, a Moon colony may sound silly, but it could have some cool benefits. The Moon has a few rare resources, such as trapped helium from the Sun, which could be mined and then used as fuel for clean energy fusion reactions. Also, the Moon has far less gravity than Earth, so a lunar colony could serve as a great spaceport; it would be much easier for spacecraft to launch from the Moon to reach other worlds in our Solar System. A recent study showed that setting up a lunar port wouldn't be that expensive, either. And come on, a lunar colony would be pretty rad to visit during your gap year.
I doubt Jeb has thought about all this, though, and that his plan hasn't moved much beyond "being cool." But it's not like Hillary Clinton has any big space plans other than "really, really" supporting the space program. And Donald Trump's thoughts on a crewed mission to Mars: "Honestly, I think it's wonderful. I want to rebuild our infrastructure first. Okay? I think it's wonderful."