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Why Are People Freaking Out About Space Billboards?

cubesat spacex billboard in space
cubesat spacex billboard in space

A few days ago, Insider reported that a Canadian startup was collaborating with SpaceX to launch a billboard into space as soon as 2022.

The billboard will be launched using one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. According to The Byte, Samuel Reid, CEO, and co-founder of Geometric Energy Corporation (GEC), explained that the billboard will be attached to a satellite and have a selfie stick attached so that the billboard can be broadcasted via YouTube or Twitch with the earth as a backdrop. This will allow people and companies to bid on who will get their ads, logos, or art displayed. Reid emphasized this in a quote to Insider:

“There might be companies which want to depict their logo… or it might end up being a bit more personal and artistic. Maybe Coca-Cola and Pepsi will fight over their logo and reclaim over each other.”

For customers to display what they want on the space billboard, they will have to bid with cryptocurrency tokens like Ethereum, though GEC says they will accept Dogecoin. They can purchase as many pixels as they want and fill them to create an image.

“I’m trying to achieve something that can democratize access to space and allow for decentralized participation. Hopefully, people do not waste money on something inappropriate, insulting or offensive.”

Sure, Reid. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

So, what is the big deal? Well, people were under the impression that the billboard will be facing earth. Without knowing this, people took to the internet to complain about how humanity is ruining space and that SpaceX is creating low-orbit pollution. According to Express, Amy Shira, a science writer commented:

“Coke vs Pepsi in space? What’s a little more horrendous light pollution between mega-advertising behemoths? Hoping this never, ever happens…”

To clear the air, NPR reported that the billboard will not be visible at all and that the satellite itself is 4 cubic inches. So, it will be impossible for one to view the billboard from earth besides viewing a livestream.

What is interesting is that the idea of a space billboard is not new. According to The Byte, Pepsi had allegedly made plans with a Russian startup, Start Rocket, to have a billboard that would have been visible. The plan fell through after Pepsi flipped and denied ever wanting to have orbital advertisements.

It will be interesting to see if companies will use this opportunity to made advertisements that are more artistic. Though, I am happy that GEC’s space billboard will face away from earth and be less intrusive than the ones Pepsi allegedly planned to have. I mean, just the thought of going on a camping trip with your family and connect with the wilderness only for your child to scream, “Coca-Cola,” while eagerly pointing at the sky would kill the vibe quickly.

Written By

Kirsten Markley is an Elon Musk enthusiast. She is studying graphic design and plans on being a UI designer on Mars.