Will Russian Startup StartRocket Put Billboard Ads In The Sky?

StartRocket Space Ads

Here’s a crazy idea: Use our night sky to project giant advertisements. Because you know, some people think we don’t have enough.

Russian startup StartRocket has been breaking the internet for a few days now. They seem to believe that we don’t see enough commercials on TV. And pretty much everywhere we go. They are looking into sending satellites to illuminate the sky with ads.

The idea sounds so surreal that it might just be a huge scheme to attract investors. But who knows. The stars could soon have new neighbours.

StartRocket claims that they will send cubesats – like the ones launched by Spaceflight – to create these big billboards. These tiny satellites come in handy for the new existing company. They are very cheap to send into space because of their small size and light weight.

StartRocket Orbital Displays
StartRocket could soon have cubesats form ads in space. – Image credit: StartRocket

The cubesats would form a pixelized image, about 20 square miles big. It needs to be seen by humans on the ground, after all. The mini satellites would be launched all at once in a single rocket. Once in low-Earth orbit, they would take position before deploying sails that reflect light. They would then form what StartRocket calls an “orbital display’’.

These space ads could therefore only be visible in evening and morning twilight, when there’s enough light to catch. Or during clear nights also. Now guess how long they would last in theory. One year! Brands would better come up with good ads…

A big no for space experts

As Syfy reports, astronomers and other experts don’t really like the idea. First of all, light pollution is a problem they don’t need anybody to add to. Second of all, it would make it even harder for scientists to study the sky. Third of all, low-Earth orbit is already crowded enough as it is.

Patrick Seitzer, Astronomy Professor at the University of Michigan, told Astronomy.com, “There are over 20,000 objects with orbits in the official public catalog maintained by the U.S. Air Force. Less than 10 percent of those objects are active satellites — the rest are dead satellites, old rocket bodies and parts of spacecraft.’’

If this is for real, get ready to see hamburgers, sneakers and who knows what else shinning 280 miles above your head by 2021.

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