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Newt Gingrich promises to build a moon colony by 2020; make it a U.S. state (MSNBC)
The plan is bold, but it could run afoul of international treaties
The race for the Republican presidential nomination is about to blast off into outer space: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced that, if elected, he'd establish a colony on the moon by 2020.
In a speech to supporters on the Florida space coast, Gingrich called for a "grandiose" effort to colonize space. "It's the second great launch of the adventure John F. Kennedy started," said Gingrich.
Gingrich opened up the possibility of the moon becoming the 51st state, something he believes could happen once a permanent settlement reaches a population of 13,000 Americans. While a 1967 United Nations document says that no one country can claim sovereignty over the moon, the U.S., Russia, and China failed to sign a more recent U.N. treaty to settle the question of who owns the moon.
The bold move hopes to boost the former speaker's presidential campaign in the Sunshine State, where space exploration remains a big industry. Florida will hold its GOP presidential primary vote on Tuesday, January 31. Polls show the race is close.