As previously noted here and elsewhere, Newt Gingrich is the Republican presidential candidate who, so far, has talked the most about space during the 2012 campaign by a large margin. Moreover, central Florida is one of the few places in the country where space is a major issue. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that, when Gingrich talked with the editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel Friday, part of a visit to Orlando to open a new campaign office there, that the issue of space came up.
However, the newspaper’s account of that editorial board meeting didn’t provide much in the way of new insights about his thoughts on space policy beyond what he has previously discussed. He said he loves “the romance of space” and believes that NASA should be “more realistic about risk taking”. He also talked up the benefits of prizes, something he has long endorsed. However, he was short on specifics, beyond suggesting that five to ten percent of NASA’s budget be used for prize programs.
The article includes a video with clips from his meeting with the editorial baord, including a couple brief comments about space. In one, he talks about prizes in a little greater detail, while in the other he brings up the criticism of past space-related ideas expressed last month by another Republican candidate, Mitt Romney:
You know, I was very surprised when Governor Romney twice recently sort of poked fun at ideas I’ve had about space. I thought it showed a total lack of vision on his part…
So I want to start with the idea that I believe we need to reclaim John F. Kennedy’s vision and we need to decide to go boldly out into space. I think that I’d like to set at least five, and maybe ten, percent of the NASA budget aside for prizes. Because if you go back and look at the history of aviation in the twenties and thirties, prize money got huge multipliers of effort: Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic for $25,000, for example. If you had set aside just five percent of the NASA budget over the last ten years, you’d have $8 billion in prize money.