SpaceX logo

SpaceX is Launching a Satellite That Will Display Billboard Ads From Space

It’s impossible to avoid ads these days. They pop up between posts on social media, in the sidebar of almost all websites, on bus station walls, and on billboards on busy streets. And in the age where human spaceflights are about to become a reality, you can’t avoid ads in space either. A Canadian startup called Geometric Energy Corporation (GEC) has teamed up with Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. GEC will take advertising to space with the small satellite launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Plus, this isn’t a standard billboard. The ads will be displayed on a pixelated screen on the satellite.

The Satellite Launch to Put Billboard Ads in Space

GEC is an intellectual property, manufacturing, and logistics company based in Calgary. Its subsidiaries include Geometric Space, GeometricLabs, Geometric Medical, and Geometric Gaming. Through these, the company invents and produces services and products in the public and private sectors. 

Advertisement

Samuel Reid, CEO, and co-founder of GEC, explained that the satellite is called CubeSat. They designed the CubeSats as commercial satellites that weigh about 660 pounds (300kg) and could be launched from different platforms.

Advertisement

One side will beam advertisements, logos, and art. The company plans to place the CubeSat on the Falcon 9 rocket as it launches to the moon. After the rocket launches, the satellite will go into orbit. The CubeSat is attached with a selfie stick so its screen could be live-streamed to YouTube or Twitch. In case anyone wants to watch ads in space.

Advertisement

It took some time for SpaceX to take GEC seriously. Reid contacted SpaceX in 2018 about CubeSat but got no reply at first. Since Reid was a teacher at Musks’s Ad Astra school at SpaceX, he ended up teaching some of Musk’s children. This position helped him get SpaceX’s attention to GEC. [1]

Advertisement

How to Put Ads on CubeSat

In order to advertise on the CubeSat, people have to buy tokens in a cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum, to claim and design a pixel on the display. They have the options for five tokens: Beta for the X coordinate, Rho for the Y coordinate, Gamma for the brightness, Kappa for the color, and XI for time. People with Beta and Rho tokens could decide where to put their pixel. With Gamma and Kappa tokens, people decide what their pixels would look like. And the XI tokens decide how long the pixel would last. 

Advertisement

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

For now, Reid didn’t tell how expensive the tokens are or how much the CubeSat cost. However, the company is advertising space on the CubeSat to businesses, artists, and anyone interested in putting a picture on the display screen. Reid imagines the screen as artboards like Reddit Place.

Advertisement

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

The company places to add Dogecoin as a usable cryptocurrency to pay for pixels on the CubeSat in the future. In fact, this satellite launch is paid for in Dogecoin. Perhaps cryptocurrencies will become the prime financial backings to future missions to space.

Advertisement

They scheduled the satellite launch for early 2022. [2]

Advertisement

Concern for the Night Sky

However, this plan has received backlash. Elon Musk has already faced heat for project Starlink — a huge constellation of satellites to develop a low-cost Internet light. The launch of dozens of satellites worried astronomers that the machines would mess with the view of the night sky. Similar protests and concerns have been raised over CubeSat as well. 

Advertisement

In fact, in 2019, reports found that project Starlink was already interfering with the astronomer’s work. Since then, the company has been trying to reduce the satellite’s visibility. However, SpaceX had applied for permission to launch up to 42,000 satellites. Viasat, a telecommunications firm that also operates a satellite internet service, opposed the project with a U.S. Court of Appeals filing in May 2021. 

Everyone agrees that we can tell that what’s happening has an impact on the atmosphere, it has an impact on the night sky, and it has an impact on space,” said John Janka. He’s the chief officer of Viasat’s global regulatory and government affairs. “But nobody has quantified it or determined how best to mitigate it.”

Therefore, in October 2021, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, International Astronomical Union, and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias organized the Dark and Quiet Skies Conference for Science and Society. There, attendees will discuss the future of the satellite launch industry and how to minimize negative impacts. [3]

Keep Reading: Power Above, Berries Below: Farmers Reap Double Benefits With Solar Power in Fields

Sources:
  1. “SpaceX and a Canadian startup plan to launch a satellite that will beam adverts into space. Anyone can buy pixels on the satellite’s screen with dogecoin.” Business Insider. Kate Duffy. August 7, 2021
  2. Elon Musk’s SpaceX may launch a tiny Canadian satellite that will livestream ads from space: report.Space. Elizabeth Howell. August 13, 2021
  3. “SPACEX TO LAUNCH BILLBOARD INTO SPACE: IS IT LEGAL? EXPERTS WEIGH IN.Inverse. Mike Brown. August 17, 2021
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
Advertisement