If one person on Earth feels vindicated about the Trump administration’s push to return to the moon, it is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In a recent post in his newsletter, the former presidential candidate and current social and political commentator waxed eloquently about the recent meeting of the National Space Council chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. Gingrich stated, “I am especially excited about Vice President Pence’s recognition that it is important to put Americans back on the Moon – and that going to the Moon is about more than just landing there.” To understand why Gingrich is so excited, one has to go back over five years when the former speaker was a presidential candidate.

The rise and lamentable fall of Newt Gingrich’s moon base

Back in January 2012, Gingrich made a speech in the Florida town of Cocoa near the Kennedy Space Center when he promised that America would have a base on the moon by 2020. The proposal was well received in aerospace circles. Almost two years before, then President Barack Obama had ruled out an American return to the moon, a decision that space advocates saw as foolish and short-sighted.

Unfortunately, Gingrich’s leading opponent, former Governor Mitt Romney, saw an opportunity and pounced. At a debate in Florida, Romney mocked the idea of a moon base. Later, "Saturday Night Live" aired a skit satirizing the concept. The usually eloquent Gingrich had no coherent answer to the ridicule.

The Gingrich campaign imploded, and so did the idea of a return to the moon.

How the Gingrich moon base finally became ‘cool’

Fast forward to October 2015 and the beginnings of the presidential campaign. Jeb Bush, brother and son of former presidents and a candidate for the office in his own right, called the idea of a moon base “pretty cool.” After Gingrich’s proposal and its demise, two studies, a NASA funded one at a think tank called NextGen Space and another at MIT, buttressed the case for going back to the moon.

The key to the solar system, as it turns out, consists of billions of tons of water ice deposited at the bottom of craters at the lunar poles. The ice can be used to support a lunar colony and can be refined into rocket fuel to turn the moon into a giant gas station for spacecraft headed to Mars and other destinations.

Now, the Trump administration is moving America back to the moon. Mitt Romney is silent about the initiative, mainly because, unlike Gingrich, who is a fixture on cable news and talk radio, no one is asking him about anything. "Saturday Night Live" may mock the president without mercy, but is silent about the return to the moon, even if it is coming from the Trump administration.

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