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A Discount Moonshot?

Michael Rainey

NASA is working on a plan to return to the moon by 2024 at a cost that’s expected to exceed $50 billion. But according to Politico’s Bryan Bender, former House Speaker and noted lunar enthusiast Newt Gingrich is pitching a proposal to get the job done faster and at lower cost with a “reality-show style” competition among private developers.

“The proposal, whose other proponents range from an Air Force lieutenant general to the former publicist for pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince, includes a $2 billion sweepstakes pitting billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers against each other to see who can establish and run the first lunar base,” Bender says.

No word on whether President Trump, who is well-versed in the dynamics of reality-show competitions, has been pitched yet, though he has reportedly expressed interest in hearing about alternative plans for the moon project.

There are several private groups currently working on space travel who could play a role in the potential competition, Bender says, including Bezos' Blue Origin, Musk's SpaceX, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin called United Launch Alliance, Bob Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace, and the European Space Agency.

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