Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX’s Starship system
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The South African billionaire, who does not shy away from controversy, has a lot going on his plate right now. SpaceX is busy assembling and testing the Mars rocket Starship, Starlink is slowly expanding its mega-constellation Internet-beaming satellites and Tesla has recently rolled out the Model S Plaid. A new report has now revealed SpaceX is partnering with a Canadian startup to launch the world’s first space-based ad satellite.
According to Samuel Reid, CEO and co-founder of Geometric Energy Corporation (GEC), the company will pay SpaceX to launch an advertisement satellite into low-Earth orbit (LEO).
This satellite, called CubeSat, will boast a large screen full of purchasable pixels on one side where advertisers will bid to have their logos and products displayed.
Mr Reid told Insider: “There might be companies which want to depict their logo… or might end up being a bit more personal artistic.
“Maybe Coca-Cola and Pepsi will fight over their logo and reclaim over each other.
Elon Musk and SpaceX have come under fire for plans to launch a satellite displaying ads (Image: GETTY/TWITTER)
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SpaceX will not play a direct role in the mission but rather act as the launch provider at some point in early 2022, using one of the company’s iconic Falcon 9 rockets.
Once in orbit, the CubeSat will use a selfie stick to broadcast its stream back to Earth via Twitch or YouTube.
Luckily, this means giant billboards are not about to fill up the night skies with advertising.
But the news has sparked an outcry on social media, with scientists and spaceflight enthusiasts alike criticising the move.
Comedy writer James Felton took to Twitter to vent his disapproval.
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He said: “Going to be difficult to pretend we’re not living in a sci-fi dystopian apocalypse when we take a moment to look up from the raging wildfires engulfing the planet to see the words Drink Pepsi.”
Game programmer and reporter Matthew Chapman said: “No. I draw the line here.
“Congress needs to ban Space Billboards before they become a thing.
“Already SpaceX satellites are creating a minefield of pollution in low-Earth orbit.”
And science writer Amy Shira Teitel said: “Coke vs Pepsi in space? What’s a little more horrendous light pollution between mega-advertising behemoths?
“Hoping this never, ever happens…”
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The CubeSat will be launched using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (Image: GETTY)
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To advertise on the pixel billboard, customers will have to pay using cryptocurrency tokens.
These will include digital tokens like ethereum, though GEC plans to accept dogecoin in the future.
Advertisers will get to select each individual pixel they want and fill them out with a colour of their choice.
Once they fill out enough pixels, a discernable image will emerge on the screen.
Mr Reid said: “I’m trying to achieve something that can democratize access to space and allow for decentralized participation.
“Hopefully, people don’t waste money on something inappropriate, insulting or offensive.”
The link-sharing website Reddit ran a similar project in 2017, dubbed Place.
The experiment involved a blank canvas of white pixels where Reddit users could draw images and words one pixel at a time.
Just 72 hours into the project, more than one million people edited the canvas, colouring in 16 million pixels.