POLITICS
02/05/2012 12:10 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2012

Newt Gingrich Brushes Off Moon Mockery By 'Saturday Night Live'

WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich is not chagrined over the "Saturday Night Live" mockery of his proposal to colonize the moon. If America doesn't go there, Gingrich said, somebody else will.

"I made a speech on the space coast in Florida to serious people who spent their lifetime trying to help America get into space," Gingrich said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "Every serious analyst understands the Chinese are going all out to dominate space, and the Russians today have the only man-rated vehicle for space."

In January before the Florida primary, Gingrich said that if he were elected president, he'd establish a moon colony by 2020. He suggested the moon could become the 51st state once its population reached 13,000.

His remarks were widely considered the most grandiose pandering the 2012 presidential contest had seen so far, but Gingrich has remained adamant about his space vision. After "Meet the Press" host David Gregory played the opening moments of the SNL skit, Gingrich stayed serious.

"I proposed a fundamental reform of NASA to engage the private sector in very bold and very dramatic ventures, and I think Greta van Susteren got it right," Gingrich said. "She said she could not imagine President John F. Kennedy being met with the kind of attacks and the ridicule and the lack of faith in America that has come up in the last few days. I believe it's possible to unleash the American people to inspire the private sector and encourage entrepreneurs and to have a better space program than we have today, and I think every American should wonder why we spend billions and billions on NASA and currently have no vehicle to put human beings into space."

"This was not some slip," Gingrich continued. "This was a deliberate effort to start a conversation at a time when the Chinese, the Indians and the Russians are aggressively moving into space, and we are mired down in red tape, spending billions of dollars without making progress."

Space-program experts have warned that colonizing the moon by 2020 would not be easy.

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