Newt’s “Zany” Space Policy

by Rand Simberg on December 27, 2011 · 1 comment

in Features, Space

Over at PJMedia over the weekend, I asked some space policy questions of Mitt Romney:

So, Governor, if you want to talk space policy, let’s talk space policy. How about answering some serious questions, instead of pretending that it’s an unserious subject, of no value except to mock your opponent?

In 2008, you said that you supported President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration, a fundamental part of which was a manned lunar base. Now you criticize Newt Gingrich for the same thing, and imply that it is a frivolity. What happened in the interim to make you change your opinion?

How much do you think that a “lunar colony” would cost? How do you think that Speaker Gingrich would propose to bring one about? Do you think that he would agree with your characterization of his plans? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, on what basis are you criticizing him?

If we are not going to settle the moon and other locations in the solar system, what in your mind is the purpose of having a human spaceflight program? Why are we doing it?

In 2009, when President Obama came out with a new space policy that emphasized competitive commercial services for crew delivery to orbit, and the development of new technologies that would make human spaceflight beyond earth orbit much more affordable, Newt Gingrich was one of the few Republicans to come out in support of it (Bob Walker and Dana Rohrabacher were others). Do you agree with Speaker Gingrich that this is a more promising and cost-effective direction for the program, or do you support the Congress in its demand that NASA spend billions on a giant rocket that won’t fly for many years, and for which no payloads are defined or funded? Or do you have some other proposal?

What would a Romney space policy look like? Given that you’ve elevated the topic in the campaign, I think that those of us to whom space is important deserve to know.

Actually, perhaps “elevated” is the wrong word for what he’s done to the topic. In any event, I’m not going to hold my breath awaiting an answer.

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