Russians Plan to Deploy Billboards in Orbit So You’ll Never Miss an Ad Again

Back in November last year, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried to Earth orbit a 100-foot-long polyethylene balloon. It was to act as some sort art display, reflecting the Sun’s light with enough force to make it visible with the naked eye. But what if instead of a mini-Moon, we’d have a Toyota ad shinning down on Earthlings?
There's a new star in the sky: the orbital billboard 7 photos
Photo: StartRocket
CubeSats to act as orbital billboardsCubeSats to act as orbital billboardsCubeSats to act as orbital billboardsCubeSats to act as orbital billboardsCubeSats to act as orbital billboardsCubeSats to act as orbital billboards
For many reasons, including ones that have to do with the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, the polyethylene balloon, pretentiously called Orbital Reflector, spins aimlessly around the planet as it awaits clearance to be activated.

In Russia, government shutdowns are very unlikely to affect a start-up that goes by the name of StartRocket. The guys there plan to deploy around our planet a number of CubeSats that are to act as planet-wide orbital billboards.

According to the company’s website, the CubeSats will be fitted with reflective sails that will extend once in orbit so that light from the Sun is sent back down on Earth in an organized and meaningful fashion.

Once in orbit, the satellites will arrange themselves in a grid with a viewable area of 50 square km (31 square miles)at an altitude of between 400 and 500 km (248 – 310 miles). The CubeSats will be capable of rearranging themselves three or four times a day so that the reflected light relays the required message to the unsuspecting people below.

StartRocket has already begun pitching its idea to investors, and is planning to select a site for the company’s production and launch facilities by the end of the year. The first test is scheduled for 2021.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll probably soon be living in a world where there's no escaping that pesky ad in the sky. Mortals won't be able to turn it off, and not even look the other way, as it will be always there, lingering in the peripheral vision every time a person is outside.

A world where fictional men no longer turn into fictional wolves under a full moon, but when seeing a McDonald’s ad at full power.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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