Elon Musk is at it again, focusing his efforts on filling space with adverts. Predicting that companies will want to advertise their products in space in the future, Musk is looking to get ahead of the trend by building the basic infrastructure that would allow him to profit from it.
Reported by Business Insider, GEC is partnering with Musk's SpaceX to launch a satellite which will broadcast adverts in space. Using Dogecoin (because of course) businesses or individuals can place adverts on the satellites screen. It’s yet another (mostly) pointless vanity project from Musk that does nothing culturally progressive. Before we indulge another one of his ideas, we need to set some ground rules.
Regulation is key
Before we allow businesses to fill space with adverts, we need to ensure there are regulations in place. Once Musk starts, it won’t take long for other businesses to follow suit. Corporations will fill space with adverts before we know it, and it will look like something similar to a web browser filled with pop-ups. Properly enforced regulations from the start limits businesses abusing the space surrounding earth.
A similar regulation was created ahead of introducing commercial spaceflight. The regulation ensures all companies involved stick to a stringent set of rules which ensure customer safety. Holding business accountable in this manner is vital, especially when it involves hundreds of pounds of metals and other materials floating above our heads at around 17,000 miles an hour. With no one to hold businesses accountable, we could quickly head towards a disaster.
The satellite, also known as CubeSat, will also need to be properly regulated. Samuel Reid, CEO and co-founder of GEC, the startup working with Musk, said: “Hopefully, people don't waste money on something inappropriate, insulting or offensive”. Hopefully isn’t good enough. The internet would absolutely take advantage of the ability to place adverts and media on a platform like that. Alongside regulating the industry itself, we need to ensure these businesses are monitoring content before it goes live.
Expect someone's John Thomas to be the first thing beamed into space.
Space trash is another big problem. You can see how much stuff there is in our atmosphere in real time right here. There is a lot of stuff up there, much of which isn’t actively in use. A new industry focused on space advertising is only going to add to that problem, further increasing the number of objects in orbit. These objects could crash back down to earth, crash into other objects, or even end up lost in space.
Even worse, the space debris created by this new industry might end up damaging a satellite in orbit that we actually need. Some of the satellites in orbit provide vital information about weather and maps for GPS devices. Placing those important devices at risk could have adverse effects on earth. Especially when we are heading into a period of history in which the weather is going to become more unpredictable than ever before.
Ultimately, we need to consider how important it is for corporations to be able to advertise in space. It arguably provides no substantial benefit and only serves to further line the pockets of an already incredibly rich person. Why place genuinely important tools at risk so someone can broadcast memes in space over a broadband connection? In my opinion, this just feels like peak capitalism.
Learning from past mistakes
The worst aspect of this advertising in space debacle is that space is supposed to be a new beginning for us. We’ve already irreversibly messed up earth, to the point where major climate change is essentially now unstoppable. One day, space could be a new start for us, provided we find a habitable planet and figure out hyper-speed. We aren’t at that point, and already big business is looking at the stars and seeing profit.
Instead of using rockets to place a floating advert billboard in space, we should be using that time and resource to better deal with climate change. This is like the commercial space race all over again. Musk is just another billionaire using large amounts of money to fund a project that only really benefits other billionaires and millionaires while increasing his own wealth. Frankly, we can do better. And at a time of such future uncertainty, floating advert billboards in space are honestly not it.