What Is Space Advertising?

Mary McMahon

Space advertising is advertising in or related to space, including outer space as well as near-Earth orbit. On Earth, such advertising includes a variety of products and services. Many nations have placed limitations on putting advertising materials in space on the grounds that it is a resource for all humans, not a commercial venue. Some countries have laws that specifically ban ad placements in space or limit the nature of such placements. This legislation is primarily anticipatory, passed in expectation that it may become an issue in the future.

Space advertising can be used to fund space exploration.
Space advertising can be used to fund space exploration.

Companies that offer opportunities like orbital spaceflight run advertising to appeal to potential customers as well as investors. These companies use space advertising to get their messages out and connect with their prospective market. This type of space advertising can also include sales of keepsakes related to space missions and various services, like space burial, that a company may make available. They can use advertising firms to design and place ads in publications like magazines and newspapers and may also have other kinds of marketing campaigns, like viral marketing to create brand awareness.

In space itself, space advertising includes the placement of promotional materials on space vehicles as well as on uniforms and equipment. Some nations with spaceflight capabilities are more amenable to such advertising than others. One advantage to space advertising is the possibility to generate income to fund space exploration from sponsorship by various corporations. Companies may also request opportunities to film in space for promotional opportunities.

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Obtrusive space advertising is a term used to refer to advertising materials that would be visible from Earth. Many nations have banned this out of concerns about visual pollution as well as other potential issues, such as the risk that a space billboard might break apart and pose a navigational hazard. Science fiction novels occasionally employ such advertising as a plot device. Readers may encounter advertising on the moon or billboards floating in space to appeal to consumers.

Mounting large, visible advertising would be a significant challenge. A company would have to develop an advertising platform that would withstand the harsh radiation in space and remain in orbit so it would be visible. The size would have to be substantial to be visible from Earth. The advertising materials would also require significant maintenance, including a plan for taking the advertisement out of orbit safely and reliably. These obstacles make obtrusive space advertising an unlikely proposition.

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