Newt Gingrich is promising to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2020 if he is elected president.
Mr Gingrich, the former House speaker, told an overflow crowd gathered on Florida's space coast that he wants to develop a robust commercial space industry in line with the airline boom of the 1930s.
He also wants to expand exploration of Mars.
The pronouncements appeared to thrill the crowd of roughly 700 people.
Florida's space coast is still suffering from a recent round of federal cuts to the space programme.
But how would Mr Gingrich pay for it?
The Republican presidential contender said he wants to offer prizes to help stimulate investment by the private sector.