Advertising in space is about to become a ‘thing’ and it somehow rubs the varnish off the romance and adventure.
It is not the first time advertising in space has been mooted. A couple of years ago, Russian company StartRocket was planning to launch a spaceship that would display logos that people could see from Earth. It didn’t happen.
Even before that, a US based company were pondering one kilometre wide, Mylar billboards. There are more examples.
The new idea, from Canadian start up GEC (Geometric Energy Corporation not General Electric Company) is to launch a satellite that will be the platform on which to sell advertising. And, obviously, it will accept cryptocurrency in a rather complicated way. And, obviously, it will be in partnership with our old alien friend, Elon Musk and his SpaceX venture.
This twist on advertising in space is that the satellite is actually very small, probably smaller than your TV. The plan is that the craft sits in orbit with a selfie stick attached, so that your logo (or art, says the CEO of GEC) can be seen with Earth in the background and beamed or streamed to YouTube, so that we can all watch.
It sounds like a case of ‘hope over experience’ and surely, once you have watched 10 seconds of ‘Earth brought to you by McDonald’s’, are you likely to watch for longer. Possibly one orbit of Earth, then it will be back to watching the paint dry.
Yet advertising in space, whether on craft that allow you to see the logo from the ground, or on YouTube, heralds a darkening day for the heavens.
Already there is a huge backlash against the sheer volume of clutter orbiting the Earth and there is now a business opportunity to be grasped in clearing it up.
To go to the next step, trialling advertising in space, seems as if the commercialisation of space has begun.
Then, of course, you have to consider where this will end up.
Right now, you need to be a billionaire to get to space, or know one. Are those billionaires already considering funding or subsidising space tourism with advertising, reusing the good old internet model?
Some believe that the commercialisation, starting with advertising in space, is inevitable. One of the gentlemen behind the Russian venture, one Alexey Skorupsky, has a pretty cynical view of this new canvas on which to smear advertising and billboards.
“If you ask about advertising and entertainment in general — haters gonna hate,” Skorupsky said. “We are developing a new medium. At the advent of television no one loved ads at all.”
So, that’s OK then. Not.
It is, perhaps, inevitable that advertising in space would take off (if it does) and will start the journey of commercialisation.
But it does seem rather sad and grubby that this is the direction of travel.
Meanwhile, something to lighten the mood: