Speaking in Cocoa, Fla., former House Speaker Newt Gingrich vowed to build an American lunar colony by 2020. "By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American." NASA retired its shuttle program in the summer, leaving many wondering about America's future in space exploration. Drawing applause from the Space Coast crowd, Gingrich said,
I will, as president, encourage the introduction of the northwest ordinance for space to put a marker down that we want Americans to think boldly about the future and we want Americans to go out and study hard and work hard and together, we're going to unleash the American people to build the country we love.
His plan to put 13,000 Americans on the moon—"They can petition to become a state,"— includes directing 10 percent of NASA's budget to prizes that would encourage private investment in space exploration.
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Corrected 1/26/2012: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the year that Newt Gingrich would like to build a lunar base.