So, how much money would NASA need to pursue such a project? According to James Clay Moltz, an associate professor at the Naval Post Graduate School and author of The Politics of Space Security, Gingrich’s vision would likely require at least a $10 billion increase in NASA spending per year to accomplish a base for short astronaut visits within just eight years. The problem, he says, is that no such project has proven politically feasible in Washington, at least since the Apollo program.
“Notably, Gingrich’s idea for a ‘U.S. base’ also seems to rule out any possible international cost-sharing, something even President Bush’s proposal had included,” Moltz told me. “Given these problems, it seems that Gingrich’s proposal, realistically, is aimed mostly at votes in Florida.”
The other, related, question is whether this kind of base is even desirable.
“In my own view, I believe that a carefully constructed international plan for an initial robotic facility on the Moon and an eventual manned base makes more sense,” Moltz said. “But it will take considerable planning and coordination, as well as input from other countries.”