Newt Gingrich’s promise to put a colony on the moon is only the latest in a long history of space-related ideas from the former House speaker.
Since childhood, Gingrich has been fascinated by space and space travel. He’s said the science fiction of Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke gave him a positive outlook and showed him the possibilities of the universe. And throughout his political career, he’s been trying to act on those possibilities.
Some highlights, from moon mirrors to space lasers:
* 1981: As a young member of Congress, Gingrich sponsored the National Space and Aeronautics Policy Act of 1981, his first attempt to create a path toward statehood for the moon. The bill had 12 co-sponsors but died in subcommittee.
* 1984: Gingrich published his first book, “Window of Opportunity: A Blueprint for The Future.” In it he approvingly cited a proposal aired at a NASA conference to manipulate the climate and light highways with mirrors on the moon. He also advocated space tourism, suggesting the moon as an ideal honeymoon spot: "Imagine weightlessness and its effects and you will understand some of the attraction.”
* 1986: Gingrich proposed taking the money we spend on farm subsidies and investing it in space travel. Former farmers could get jobs in factories orbiting space stations, Gingrich said at the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta.
* 1994: Gingrich proposed a $20 billion prize for the first private organization to land a crew on Mars and return it to Earth. His think tank, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, worked with Mars-exploration advocate Robert Zubrin on the idea. It’s an idea Gingrich has returned to over the years; he has also proposed prizes for moon exploration.
* 1995: Gingrich worked on a novel with science fiction author Jerry Pournelle called “The Faction,” in which “anti-American Japanese team up with international terrorists and get a hold of advanced space weaponry,” according to a Washington Post article. The book was never published.
* 2002: In a Frontline interview, Gingrich predicted that within the next 10 years, we could fend off missile attacks from Iran or North Korea with “energy weapons and laser pulsing systems” that operate from space.