NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has advised the space agency to build its brand image by selling naming rights to spacecraft and featuring active astronauts in TV advertisements – as if they are celebrities.
Bridenstine hopes this branding opportunity can help offset some of the space agency’s operational costs as well as integrate it into contemporary popular culture. “I’d like to see kids growing up, instead of maybe wanting to be like a professional sports star, I’d like to see them grow up wanting to be a NASA astronaut, or a NASA scientist”, Bridenstine said during an advisory council meeting.
Government agencies are prohibited from using the public office for private gain. Similarly, civil services cannot show any commercial preferences, and these branding deals would be treading unknown territory.
Nominated by President Trump, Brandestine has been outspoken about his intentions to privatise many NASA space activities, such as the operation of the International Space Station.
Is the world ready for a spaceship named Rockety McRocketface? Or Budweiser billboards on the ISS? Or blinking adverts for Tesla cars on a SpaceX launch tower?
Image: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds a joking For Sale sign on the Space Shuttle in 1984. NASA / public domain
This story is taken from the 14 August 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.