Here’s Why NASA Rockets Might Display Budweiser Ads One Day

Strapped for cash, space agency ponders selling naming rights to its spacecraft.

NASA (Getty Images)
Getty Images

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Mad Men.

Facing an increasingly tight budget, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has directed the space agency to look at boosting its brand and revenues by selling naming rights to its rockets and spacecraft, reports The Washington Post. Likewise, he said he is open to allowing NASA astronauts to appear in commercials and on cereal boxes. Officials emphasize that nothing has been decided yet, but the idea could mark a cultural leap for the taxpayer-funded government agency. It could also run afoul of ethics regulations that prevent government officials from using their public jobs for private gain.

Previously, NASA has stayed away from endorsing any particular product or company. But during a recent meeting of a NASA advisory council, Bridenstine said he was setting up a committee to examine what he called the “provocative questions” of turning its rockets into corporate billboards.

“Is it possible for NASA to offset some of its costs by selling the naming rights to its spacecraft, or the naming rights to its rockets?,” Bridenstine asked, according to The Post. “I’m telling you there is interest in that right now. The question is: Is it possible? The answer is: I don’t know, but we want somebody to give us advice on whether it is.”

He also wants astronauts to be more accessible to journalists, and allow them to participate in marketing opportunities to boost their brands, and NASA’s. Previously, companies have found a way to include space into their marketing campaigns, and many brands have benefited from their affiliation with the space program. Budweiser recently announced its plans to be “the first beer on Mars” as part of a plan to study barley in the weightless environment of the International Space Station.

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