NASA has a pretty big problem on its hands. The group wants to do amazing new things, like travel to Mars, but those things cost money. Money has been hard to come by for the group in recent years, and there’s a very clear gap between NASA’s budget and the amount of money required to meet its ambitious goals. So, NASA’s new boss has proposed a solution: advertising.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has said a number of times that one way to raise money would be to sell the naming rights to various missions, and even allowing astronauts to offer endorsements for products. It’s not the craziest idea, but it would certainly be a dramatic shift for an organization that has always been solely about science with virtually zero commercialization.
Leave it to Stephen Colbert to totally lampoon the plan with a goofy video showing just how absurd things could get.
Colbert does a great job of turning the plan on its head, hilariously plugging various products into iconic and historic NASA events such as the Moon landing. It obviously makes these accomplishments feel a bit cheap, and if things were ever to progress to this point it sure would be a shame.
Nobody wants the first image of a man on Mars to be littered with company logos or cheesy product plugs, but there’s little reason to worry that things would degrade to this point. NASA has said that selling naming rights to missions or even spacecraft could raise funds for new missions and more powerful hardware, but it would likely be more in line with how sports stadiums are named.
A new sports venue might carry the name of a company or brand, but its logo isn’t painted in the middle of the field. If companies want to sponsor scientific efforts in order to have their name on a press release, that’s actually a pretty fantastic plan. Let’s just hope NASA puts a limit on its commercialization before Mars-bound spaceships look like NASCAR vehicles. Because ew.