As noted by one commenter, the full Gingrich speech on space is available here on C-SPAN.
I have now listened to the whole speech, and can say without hesitation that everything I wrote in my previous post was correct. Gingrich is knowledgeable about space, science, and history. He is basing his proposals on past successful models where the U.S. government did nothing but buy the product developed by private individuals or companies. These proposals actually continue as well as accelerate the Obama administration’s efforts. And he is not proposing a giant pork program.
His proposal to have a moon base by 2020 is unquestionably campaign talk that won’t happen. Nonetheless, this proposal is aimed at energizing the American aerospace industry by focusing the government’s goals, which will then need to be purchased by the government from private companies. He also made it very clear he wants to shrink the NASA bureaucracy, reducing its budget while devoting ten percent of that savings (equal to billions of dollars) for prizes. The example of a $10 billion tax-free prize for the first to get to Mars was only for illustration. As he said,
The model I want us to build is largely is the model of the ’20s and ’30s, when the government was actively encouraging development but the government wasn’t doing anything. The government was paying rewards, it was subsidizing the mail. … We had enormous breakthroughs in aviation in the ’20s and ’30s at very little cost to the government because lots of smart people [outside the government] did it.
I beg everyone to listen to this speech, in its entirety. It illustrates a thoughtful man who understands history. Gingrich might not be a perfect man, and he certainly is not the perfect candidate for President, but don’t tell me what you think of him if you refuse to listen to him. For two decades too many people have eagerly expressed opinions about him without really listening to what he has actually said or done. And what he says here is reasonable, intelligent, and certainly worthy of consideration.