On Wednesday the public relations department of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow issued a news release with a provocative title: “Ad-block this: Space advertisers ready to display commercials in the sky.”
How about no.
The basis for the news release is a study in the journal Aerospace . Its authors assess the technical feasibility of flying satellites in formation, in space, to reflect sunlight and display commercials in the sky above cities. The authors wondered whether satellites could fly long enough, and in enough different formations over various cities, to make money back from advertising to cover their development and launch costs.
Their findings are positive, the researchers report, writing in their paper, “An unrealistic idea as it may first seem, space advertising turns out to have a potential for commercial viability.” The optimum size of such a formation is about 50 cubesats, of the 12U variety that individually measure about 34 cm×20 cm, with an operating lifetime of about three months.
To optimize the economics of the satellite formation, the team chose to fly an orbit over large and densely populated cities, displaying an ad for one minute before moving to the next city. The Russian researchers calculate that the daily space advertising revenue would reach approximately $2 million. They estimate that a single mission operating for 91.5 days could generate a net income of $111.6 million after expenses.
As my colleague Jeff Foust succinctly quipped on Twitter this morning, such an initiative would pose a very real challenge to efforts by the United States to ban testing of anti-satellite weapons.
Seriously, this is a terrible idea for a variety of reasons, from the proliferation of space debris to concerns about satellite light pollution. But perhaps most importantly, this is just something that people will viscerally hate. One of the worst “innovations” in the last decade is the proliferation of high-volume video ads at gas station pumps. These are incredibly annoying, and the only positive aspect of them I can see is that they will drive more people to buy electric vehicles.
Putting ads in space, above cities, may seem like a novelty to some entrepreneurs. But a majority of people will detest it, and detest you, and detest the advertisers, for doing it. So please don’t. And if you do, you’re going to get what you deserve.
P.T. Barnum is believed to have said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” He was wrong.
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Who is ready for a fleet of cubesats flying over cities, displaying ads? have 726 words, post on arstechnica.com at October 5, 2022. This is cached page on TechNews. If you want remove this page, please contact us.