01/27/2012 12:24 pm ET Updated Mar 28, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Vision For An American Future In Space (PHOTOS)

Newt Gingrich's fixation with the final frontier is far from new.

Gingrich made headlines this week by pledging to build a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he is elected president and calling for the United States to land on Mars "as rapidly as possible."

He reiterated his goal of a lunar colony during Thursday's GOP debate, outlining a plan to offer prizes to innovators. "I'd like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there," he said.

His space-exploration platform is likely an attempt to court voters prior to next Tuesday's Florida primary. Gingrich has held space-themed events in the area surrounding NASA's Kennedy Space Center, home to approximately 500,000 Floridians, and has made his plans for the moon and beyond a notable talking point in the state.

Gingrich has long been fascinated by outer space. He cites science fiction authors Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke as influences, and has even tried his hand at penning sci-fi of his own. His attempts at space-related legislation stretch back to his early years in Congress.

Here is a look back at Gingrich's past space ideas, illustrating what the future may look like if Gingrich is elected president:

Newt's Vision For Life On The Moon