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Rocket man

I’ve been wondering lately where the best spot for the 51st state would be. If I were Newt Gingrich, I’d say it was the moon. If you’ve been following the Republican campaigns, or Saturday Night Live, you’d be aware that Gingrich has plans for a permanent moon colony by the end of a second term. Has there ever been an idea so laughable (beyond that one time my cousin decided that his truck could totally do a barrel roll)? While the citizenry of America scoffed at the idea, Science (with a capital S) took a moment to judge the idea.

Their response?

Surprisingly, yes, followed by a list of caveats. Before you break out your Marvin the Martian costumes, there are numerous obstacles, the very least of which is money. It’s estimated that the development and establishment would run $35 billion, with an annual upkeep of over $7 billion. For comparison, that’s more than the entire yearly budget for both the Department of Homeland and Security and the Department of Justice and double the entire budget for NASA as it stands currently. In addition, it is sufficient to say that due to budget cuts over the past 20 years, Newt’s moon base is more than ten years away.

Here’s the part that’s hard for me to admit. As ridiculous as it sounds (Seriously. Newt, to the moon!), it’s not the worst goal for a nation so far lagging in science and math. In fact, the last president to throw down the moon gauntlet was JFK, which resulted in a huge advance in American commitment to the sciences. Unfortunately, the combined cost and political landscape will never result in such a chase of moon-glory any time soon, but it would be nice to go visit Aunt Marge at the Starlite Hotel on the moon with my nifty tin ’50’s lunch box.

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