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Jan 28, 2012 10:37 AM by Matt Stafford

Gingrich defends call for more US space exploration

STUART, Fla. (AP) - Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich says critics of his call to ramp up U.S. space exploration don't understand the power of science, technology and entrepreneurship to change the future.

Campaign rival Mitt Romney was referring to Gingrich earlier this week when he said that if any business executive recommended spending huge sums on colonizing the moon, he'd fire him.

But Gingrich said President Abraham Lincoln recommended building a transcontinental railroad at a time necessary technology didn't exist, and a decade later the job was done. He said it's similar to when President John F. Kennedy started a program to put a man on the moon in the early 1960s; the same thing happened.

Gingrich spoke on the 26th anniversary of the explosion that destroyed the space shuttle Challenger 73 seconds into flight, killing all seven aboard.

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