Newt Gingrich: “To the moon, Alice!”
My first problem with this statement is that I don’t appreciate Mr. Gingrich lumping me in with him; I’m not grandiose. Secondly, I disagree overall – Americans are not grandiose. Well, unless by ‘grandiose,’ you mean we spend money on things we don’t need, then yeah, we’re grandiose. But still, most Americans don’t go around telling people they plan on installing an after-market flux capacitor in their 1999 Toyota Camry. Maybe when he said ‘Americans,’ he meant ‘rich people.’ Maybe rich people do go around saying grandiose things, such as ‘I’m going to have Rod Steward play at my 80th birthday party.” That sounds grandiose to me, but I don’t know anyone who talks like that.
I’d like to take a moment to let you know how awesome I think space and space exploration is. I know entirely too much about the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs (all of which were wrapped up before I was born) as well as the Space Shuttle. I’ve been to Kennedy Space Center, I’ve heard the sonic boom from the space shuttle, I’ve watched the entire “From the Earth to the Moon” series at least three times (even the boring episode about the astronauts’ families)… so yeah, I’m versed in space, and I love this stuff.
But this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard anybody say:
Newt Gingrich: “By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.”
Now that is grandiose! And “By the end of my second term?” Who talks like that before they’re even close to securing a nomination to run for a first?!? Newt does.
I don’t have any idea why the United States would do this besides the fact that it would be a really awesome thing to say if you’re ever abroad and someone asks you what country you’re from.
“I’m an American,” you’d respond, proudly. “We have a base on the moon, sucka!”
It would take an insane amount of money (I’ll explain why in a second) to accomplish a lunar base, but I don’t see how America benefits from having a permanent base on the moon. Newt says it will benefit “science, tourism, and manufacturing,” and I’m sure science will benefit from the development of the technology it will take to accomplish this, but tourism? Manufacturing? It costs around $1000 to fly from the United States to China – the moon is a lot farther away! And how much does a moon hotel room cost? Does it cost extra to get a room with a view of the Sea of Tranquility? Do they at least supply soap and shampoo? I can’t imagine what the TSA examination is like to board a spacecraft! And what are they going to manufacture on the moon? A line of apparel based on Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker? Maybe he meant mining, harvesting minerals, that sort of thing… Newt must have saw that movie Moon.
I don’t know if Newt’s noticed, but we’re having a fairly serious budget issue in the United States right now, and there isn’t a lot of extra money lying around to make his dream a reality. As I’m sure you know, NASA has retired the space shuttle as it’s extremely old. How old is the design? Let me put it this way: the space shuttle is so old it can’t run Windows. I don’t mean Windows 7, I mean any version of Windows that has ever existed. Windows 95? You can forget it. The space shuttle is ancient; you’d be better off running the damn thing from your smart phone – it has way more processing power. So there’s your first problem; a new space vehicle would have to be designed to fly to the moon. See, the space shuttle was designed to fly in the earth’s orbit, so while I’m sure a replacement design is in the works, near completion or being manufactured right now, I doubt it could make the trip to the moon, which I’ve already mentioned is far away, even if it looks close. To set up a base, you’re going to have to get a ton of equipment to the moon, which is surely going to require a large vehicle – much larger than a vehicle that would only transport people. So now we need a space truck (And presumably, Space Truckers… ugh, I shudder at the thought of that movie. If you feel like you’re living under a rock because you’ve never heard of Space Truckers, just understand that it’s a rock worth living under.), which we’d have to build with a big enough payload to break the earth’s gravity, which is no easy feet – if you’ve ever seen a space launch on TV, you know it looks like a bomb exploding – imagine if the vehicle was even bigger and heavier! Blast off would level Cape Canaveral! Flying to the moon (and in space) is all about weight. You need enough propellent to push your vehicle from one place to another at a rate that doesn’t take forever, never mind just getting away from earth’s gravity…
So yeah, I don’t see this working. And I have no idea how you support life on the moon on a permanent basis. Where does the oxygen come from? If you store it in tanks, you have to keep in mind that it’s highly flammable. It gets pretty cold on the lunar surface at night… I guess some big solar powered batteries will keep the habitat warm when you’re rocking out on the dark side of the moon. But if something breaks and the local engineer can’t fix it, you might be tempted to scream out, “Newt!” in frustration, but don’t bother.
In space, no one can hear you scream.
more Election 2012 at creativejamie.com/category/election-2012/