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Space Science

No Billboards in Space 380

An anonymous reader writes "CNN is reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration proposed Thursday to amend its regulations to ensure that it can enforce a law that prohibits 'obtrusive' advertising in zero gravity." From the article: "For instance, outsized billboards deployed by a space company into low Earth orbit could appear as large as the moon and be seen without a telescope, the FAA said. Big and bright advertisements might hinder astronomers."
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No Billboards in Space

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoeshere.calu m . o rg> on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:51PM (#12595235) Homepage
    And sorry, who is enforcing this law? I wasn't aware that the US owned space.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by YetAnotherAnonymousC ( 594097 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:54PM (#12595257)
      The politicians and bueraucrats will be enforcing it... we'll be firing them into space at the billboards! =)
      • Zapping (Score:3, Funny)

        by orzetto ( 545509 )

        Ah, the pleasure of shutting down ads with nuclear weapons... It gives the concept of zapping an entirely new meaning!

        • Re:Zapping (Score:3, Funny)

          by Muhammar ( 659468 )
          "Ah, the pleasure of shutting down ads with nuclear weapons... It gives the concept of zapping an entirely new meaning!"

          In ..... ......, concave satelite addboards are zapping you!
      • No! Were going to need them to vote on the legislation written by the advertising industry lobbyists trying to restrict the power of the FAA to not include space.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

        by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @09:59PM (#12596103)
        Darn right!
        Stick an oversized billboard in space and the next
        thing you know, some hillbilly country with nukler
        tipped missiles will be taking pot-shots at it.
        Next thing you know, there goes the whole neighborhood...
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spetiam ( 671180 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:55PM (#12595269) Journal
      "Big and bright advertisements might hinder astronomers."

      Not to mention the proliferation of space junk.

      I wasn't aware that the US owned space.

      Wow, even when we propose keeping space clean, you just can't pass up the chance to do a little US-bashing, can you?
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ( 321932 ) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @04:29AM (#12597695) Homepage Journal

        - I wasn't aware that the US owned space. -

        Wow, even when we propose keeping space clean, you just can't pass up the chance to do a little US-bashing, can you?

        Heheh. Yeah, you are right. Over the last years the US has been such a formidable world-citizen that that comment was certainly uncalled for.

        I'm sure the US will try everything it can to keep space clean. From non-US stuff. *ducks*

    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 )
      The U.S. owns the space the space above the U.S.. I guess the question would be how far up do you consider U.S. airspace.

      Besides, this is a good thing. It was only a matter of time until somebody started doing it...
      • Good question, considering that as the earth turns, our cone of airspace, or spacespace, if extended infinitely, would cover a significant portion of the universe.
      • It was 100 miles at on time. Now I would guess it is up to where the FIA says space begins
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrDomino ( 799876 )
        It was only a matter of time until somebody started doing it...

        True, but I can't be the only one who's a little disgusted that advertising is so invasive and prevalent that something like this can even be considered a possibility in the first place.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

          by NitsujTPU ( 19263 )
          I think that you're overreacting.

          **My Opinion, brought to you by X10**
      • A bad guy in a comic book did it. Zorglub wanted to write "coca-cola" on the moon. Unfortunately, the goons in charge were a bit confused [].

        That comic book, Spirou et Fantasio, "Z comme Zorglub", was drawn at the end of the 50'ies.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Harker ( 96598 )
        "We are not in anybody's airspace. There is no air.

      • i'm sure i heared it was kinda like that once with the seas/oceans too

        all countries had terratorial waters extending from thier coast. Exactly how far wasn't clearly defined until later but there were certainly areas of water that noone could seriously dispute were not under the control of any country in particular.

        imo any height that can only be realistically maintained by orbit should be considered outside of a countries airspace at least for now.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
        What if someone placed an ad over the Atlantic Ocean in geo-synch orbit? International waters and all, but it would STILL be visable from most of the US and Western Europe.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @11:43PM (#12596623) Journal
        The U.S. owns the space the space above the U.S..

        If that were true, the Soviet Union would not have been able to fly over U.S. territory and vice-versa. It was a deliberate choice Eisenhower made in 1955 when he proposed his "Open Skies" initiative. When Sputnik flew a few years later, he didn't complain about its flying over US territory because he wanted the right to do the same thing. In 1960 when Corona flew, it made a hash of the fear that the Soviets had an advantage over us and enabled Eisenhower to focus on domestic issues instead of meeting a non-existant military threat.

        Outer space is open to whomever can get there.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The regulation undoubtedly is not of space as that is impossible for any nation or group of nations. Rather, so far as is logical, the regulation would apply to and be imposed on companies under jurisdiction of the US-that is, this seemingly makes it so that no US company may act to place that sort of advertisement under penalty of the US, purely within its current bounds.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

      by vwjeff ( 709903 )
      I hope ads do appear in space. We can then use them as target practice. ICBM target practice, that is.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

        by igny ( 716218 )
        ICBM target practice

        Instead of inter-continental ballistic missiles. It should be called AAM, Air-to-Ad-Missiles.
    • Launch sites. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by redfenix ( 456698 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:57PM (#12595290)
      Okay, the FAA controls the US airspace, right? So, they probably won't allow any of these LEO Billboards to be launched in the U.S.

      Of course, there's virtually nothing they can do if an LEO craft is launched from some other location and meanders over the U.S. from time to time.

      Perhaps they could do something if it were placed in a geostationary orbit over the U.S. but then it wouldn't be in LEO.
      • Re:Launch sites. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:07PM (#12595367)
        Except LEO is maybe 120 miles up, whereas geostationary orbit is about 34000 miles up. I don't think people realize how far 34,000 miles is. You can see mountains 100 miles away on a clear day, so a sign in LEO is not unreasonable. But just try to make a sign so big it can be seen from GEO. Go ahead.
      • Yes, I'm sure the U.S. government would sit there and do nothing. I mean, it's not like us to, say, blow something up if we feel it threatens us. :)
      • A geostationary satellite has to be over the equator, and the US has no territory at the equator. Likewise, a lot of satellites never pass directly over US soil, but could still appear as large as the Moon to Americans.

        These things have to be solved with international treaties (which would be easy enough to get, because people in other countries don't want this kind of crap any more than Americans do), unfortunately the party in power hates the idea of treaties so they'd rather assert US authority to con

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @10:03PM (#12596136)
          Likewise, a lot of satellites never pass directly over US soil, but could still appear as large as the Moon to Americans.
          That's virtually impossible. If my math is right, an advertisement in geosynchronous orbit would have to be about 325km accross in order to be the same size as the moon. Since it'd have to be at least semi-ridged (and assuming it was square), the cost of building a sign with a surface area of 105625 square kilometers would be enormous.
    • They are following the rules of colonialism, otherwise known as claiming area for one's nation with the cunning use of flags. The US has a flag on the moon, so until someone else claims another piece of space with another flag, it's all theirs.

      For more please refer to Eddie Izzard [].
    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      Dude, you just have to keep up with the memos. I think you'll find this one actually under the leopard. He likes to sit on odd bits of paper.

      The whole thing reminds me of a 20 or 30 year old Playboy cartoon though. Two guys are standing on a highrise balcony looking at the moon, which, instead of "The Man in the Moon" displays a Playboy rabbit head logo and one is saying to the other:

      "I wonder how much it cost him?"

      I guess it'll mean war with the Lunatics when they actually do it, for deploying Weapons o
    • Just half to bash not matter what. The US will probably enforce this by making it illegal for US companies and companies that do business in the US to use these billboards.
      Then the US will use it's power to get other countries to follow this law as well.
      Just so you know the US has a lot of political and economic power. Of course some will complain even when the US uses this power for something positive.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clem.dickey ( 102292 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:12PM (#12595406)
      > I wasn't aware that the US owned space.

      It would be silly to say that the US owns space. That would be like saying that it owns, oh, Iraq. Historically nations have had "ownership" according to how far they can project force. The "three mile limit" for ocean ownership was determined by the range of shore guns. The USSR did not "own" its airspace until it proved that it could shoot down a U2 spy plane.

      If the US Air Force succeds in militarizing space, the US may indeed "own" it. That may prove easier than "owning" Iraq. :-)

      On a separate topic, it seems to me that a LEO banner would be visible mostly at dusk or dawn. How would it be lit in the middle of the night? Reflection from terrestrial lights maybe, or flourexcent paint?
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nickptar ( 885669 )
        Historically nations have had "ownership" according to how far they can project force.
        Don't you mean 0wnership?

        On the subject of lighting - reflection from terrestrial light and fluorescent paint (which converts UV into visible light) wouldn't be enough. I suppose the back would be covered in solar cells, which would charge batteries when the sign was on the day-side, and the batteries would power lights on the night-side. (If that's not enough, power could *theoretically* bebeamed from Earth - hmm, may
    • If its flying over our country, we get to shoot it down no questions asked.

      Then put the people responsible into jail. ( hopefully forever )

      We dont own space? Prove it.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      If a US company is behind it, then it would be easy to prosecute. If a non-US company was behind it, I don't think it would be difficult to find some means to accidentally destroy it.
    • Why do you think the military is trying to get approval for space weapons?
  • be seen without a telescope

    So we could still make a deal if aliens drop by wanting to buy Jupiter [].
  • by ForestGrump ( 644805 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:51PM (#12595240) Homepage Journal
    No big, bright billboards by highways either- because they are a distraction to drivers.
    • I forget where it was, but I recently read a claim (by some advertiser, IIRC--go figure) that these huge billboards in rural interstate and interstate-ish driving help drivers by breaking the monotony .

      No, I don't really believe it ... but I really just read this somewhere. Wish I could find the source now...

      • not sure if they help, but the idea is correct. the roads in the USA are very straight, for long periods of time, this causes our brain to wander ( highway hypnosis ) and reduced attention time.

        curvy roads keep our attention.
    • second!!!

  • How about it driving everyone bonkers?
    • Re:Astronomers?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:11PM (#12595394) Journal
      Seriously, I don't think doing something like this would be a positive step for a company to take. They'd get a whole lot of publicity out of it right at the beginning, but pretty soon it'd become a major eyesore, and there'd be a lot of loathing towards them for putting it there. Looking at it would get old really quick.

      There'd probably be some significant protesting outside their HQ and whatnot. There would be calls for boycotting, which would probably gain some traction, as people become more and more tired of it.

      If some company did it, and it was only visible up there for a few days, they'd get some serious publicity, and if they let it die while it was still a novelty, they'd get mostly good press and an excited public. I'd check a website to find out when it'd be overhead, and then go watch it pass over a few times. Just as long as it doesn't stay long enough to become an eyesore.

      After a few of these advertisements happened, it'd cease to be a novelty, and the excitement of seeing one would wear off, and people would turn against them.

      That's how I imagine it at least.
      • It's like internet spam. The first few times they do it it will be a novelty, then nobody will use spam because it's not worth it.

        Oh, wait, something's going overhead now:

        'Erectile problems? Reach this sign with FREE VIAGRA!!!'

        I'm glad we didn't regulate the skies...
  • by AndOne ( 815855 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:52PM (#12595247)
    Europe annouces a space billboard initiative. Part of this initiative involves a unilateral declaration that any attempt to remove their billboards will be seen as an act of agression. Followed by what sounded like muffled laughter.
  • ...will be on the receiving end of a petrol bomb.

    Act like a twat, you'll be treated like a twat.
  • by jemenake ( 595948 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:54PM (#12595260)
    If they occupy as much solid-angle as the moon, then they could eclipse the sun (or moon). Can you imagine disc-shaped billboards? I can see it now... "This eclipse brought to you by Coca-Cola!" Better yet, "All your photons are belong to us". - Joe
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:55PM (#12595273) Journal
    Imagine if China put its flag in orbit. What is the US going to do, shoot it down?
    • Pretty much yep. Especially if it is visible from the U.S. and/or interferes with any of our satellites or other devices.

      Seriously though, why would China do this? *boggle* To advertise their government: "Look everybody, its Communism Lite, now with half the fanatical controlling of markets for the priviledged few!"
  • In the good 'ol USA science is suggesting the advertising dollar take the back seat. I don't think so... the military industrial complex is pushing ahead with weapons in space in the face of many nations wanting to keep space weapons free and the scientific community thinks advertisiing will be kept out of space?
  • for when they forbid obtrusive advertising in CYBERspace.
  • Fiction because Fact (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @07:58PM (#12595295)
    Blade Runner (1982) [] I believe employed the use of either low orbit billboards, or just random hovering billboards. Hard to tell what the effect was intended to be.
    • Blade Runner (Score:3, Insightful)

      The "blimps" in BR weren't supposed to be in orbit, they were just flying through the city. That's why you could hear the "Let's go to the colonies!" spiel coming from them. They looked pretty heavy, maybe they were supposed to be anti-grav instead of just lighter-than-air craft.
  • Why can't I get a check from Goodyear when their blimp flies through the airspace over my property? Or force them to turn aside?
  • That's right. Silly.

    The U.S. can't even control ground based advertisements and internet pop-ups within it's own borders. Why the hell is any government agency so wrapped up in make laws and regulations that don't even apply yet!

    Well, if the FAA/FCC/[A-Z] agency won't help me crusade against idiotic advertising I'll do it on my own. I think I could make a living at it even.

    That's right. I'm changing my profession to assasin for hire. I'll find out who is responsible to stupid, korny, and plain anno
    • Space-based ads seem more likely than the "chimera" genetic engineering debate I keep hearing about.

      But then, so does subsequent private development of anti-orbital-advertising technology. I wonder how much gunpowder it would take to lob a lead slug to orbital altitude. Doesn't actually need to go into orbit. In fact, it's more likely to do damage if you let the satellite billboard come to it.

      Of course, one slug wouldn't do it. You'd need the equivalent of grape shot to have a significant effect.
  • Might?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by GreyOrange ( 458961 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:04PM (#12595337) Journal
    I'm a member of the astronomy club here in Orlando and Disney World about 35 miles away impedes our observations. Any astronomer will tell you that a full moon can ruin observations for the night and any billboard that's as bright as the moon and is in full brightness all the time is going to tick every astronomer off within the viewable region. I feel sorry for any country's astronomers where one of these things get put up.
    • Re:Might?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:40PM (#12595591)
      Any billboard that's as bright as the moon and is in full brightness all the time is going to tick every astronomer off within the viewable region

      Pardon, but there's a slightly bigger issue, which is how disgusting the concept is. Photographs of the great outdoors? Brought to you by Nikon and Kodak. Night out camping? Brought to you by Hummer, buy one for your next trip and get there in style. Advertisements will universally become part of the landscape. It's so horrifyingly commercial, it makes me want to throw up. That you wouldn't be able to see Star XYZ is, sorry, rather secondary.

      I keep waiting for the backlash, and I never see it. First it was the horizon with billboards. Then product placement (no, it's not a new trend, it's been around since the advent of TV). Then clothing. Most recently, people's bodies. Now we're talking about throwing up giant billboards so that you'll have to go inside to avoid them. Where will we stop? When will the backlash begin?

      I've noticed that many "futuristic" movies have had floating advertisements in space/the sky (a few that come to mind- Judge Dread, The Fifth Element, and I believe Blade Runner, to name a few) and I think it was almost intended to get us used to the concept. I seriously hope it backfired, sickening people. I know it made my stomach turn.

      Thankfully I think this is one area the conservative right will be with us on- they're probably even more horrified of "God's kingdom" being defiled than we are.

      • Re:Might?! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syrion ( 744778 )
        Generally, in science fiction, this sort of thing serves a dystopic purpose. It is basically intended to disgust you. It's hardly an optimistic vision of the future.
      • Re:Might?! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by loqi ( 754476 )
        It's pretty clear that God's kingdom takes a backseat to profits with these guys. They're not exactly where they might be as far as environmental concern goes.
  • When you thought spam was bad enough... I guess you could call this advertising in the ether.
  • Loophole (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Oooius ( 882757 )
    Sounds like there's a pretty big loophole to me - technically speaking, low earth orbit is not zero-gravity. The gravity that close to the earth is almost as strong as it is here on the surface. The onyl difference is that you're zinging around at 20,000 MPH, thus keeping yourself from falling out of the sky.
  • I would be interested in what libertarians would say about this.
    After all, if you own some physical property, it seems that you can do with it as you wish, especially if it is in space, which is not anyone's property.
    • Well, what's to stop a private party from launching a missile at it, and blowing the shit out of the sky?

      For that matter, who says a private party can't make their own colony on Mars/etc where slavery, child prostitution, et al bad earth things, are legal? And call themselves King of Olympus Mons, and nuke anyone /earth government who comes near them?

      Seems that's human history, people move on and do their own thing - so if someone launches an exterrestrial Nike ad, I can blast it if I can reach it.
  • I swear... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PyWiz ( 865118 ) slashdotters just can't help making desperate attempts to cynically imply the US government is trying to overstep its boundaries and turn into some fascist regime. Sorry, but companies based in the US CAN be regulated by the US government. Many European countries will likely follow with similar laws and thus most major companies will be stopped from displaying billboards in space. Note this is NOT a violation of anyone's rights, simply a reasonable use of regulatory power.

    Good try, though.
    • Preach it.

      If this was a news story about how the FAA was going to allow this as opposed to banning it, all comments would be "Yet another US govt agency helping the corporations".

      I actually was surprised to read this because I would expect the opposite to happen, if you would have asked me yesterday.

  • Zero gravity? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mensa Babe ( 675349 )
    In other words: forget the static billboards and welcome the spinning billtorusii thanks to the general relativity theory and the equivalence principle in non-inertial frames of reference. Another example of politicians who want to write laws to control the entire universe without any knowledge of the real laws of said universe. (Pun most definitely intended.) Sad. Very sad.
  • by elgrinner ( 472922 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:13PM (#12595411)
    An American Officer runs up to his superior and says excitedly: "Sir, Sir! The Soviets have painted the moon red, what should we do?"
    After a little contemplation the man replied: "Take a bucket of white paint to the moon and write Coca Cola on it."
  • Wasn't there a Dilbert episode on just -this-?
  • Blocking progress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Symb ( 182813 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:15PM (#12595423) Homepage
    The FCC can't mandate broadcast flag. The FCC can mandate what goes in space.

    Religion can't stop suicide, but it can stop stem cell research.

    I'm so damn confused.

    Won't it be nice when nationalism fades?
  • 1) arrive first

    2) arrive armed

    There! you own space! Works for solar systems, planets, moons, asteroids. Quite simple, really.

    I was hoping to make a fortune selling rocket-propelled 'adblockers' but now I have to think of another get-rich-quick scheme.
  • by setirw ( 854029 )
    "That's no moon... that's an oversized advertisement for the next generation Whopper(tm)"
  • by FrankieBoy ( 452356 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:33PM (#12595539)
    Chairface Chippendale will be real disappointed.

  • by koushy ( 758136 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:38PM (#12595574) Homepage
    anyone find the actual text of this proposal? last time i checked there was no such thing as 'zero gravity'...
  • by Bones3D_mac ( 324952 ) on Friday May 20, 2005 @08:43PM (#12595603)
    George Lucas sues AT&T after logo in space is confused with the Death Star.
  • Oh brother...

    The spammers, indubitably, have been alerted to yet another advertising medium (Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the spamship, Gator...).

    Why? why? why, did you open your mouth, FCC?
  • No ads in zero-gravity, eh? That means I can still write my name in the moon with a giant laser!


    Aw, crap, some superheroes blew up the laser. :(
  • The ecological impacts of huge space ads could be horrible. In a system as delicate as nature, you don't want to vary things like the amount of sun an area receives... even by tiny amounts.

    Wal-Mart: Making Your Winters Longer!

  • The Sun is being presented to you today by Sun Microsystems. "Use Solaris. Please! Hey, we even run Linux!"

    Mercury is being presented to you this evening by the new Oral-B Thermometer.

    Venus is being presented to you by Arista Records... home to Abba! (1)

    The Earth is being presented to you this evening by Miracle-Gro. Your lawn will thank you.

    Mars is being presented to you this evening by M&M/ Mars Candies. Because sometimes you feel like a nut!

    Jupiter is being presented to you this evening by Jupiter Research, because we really really want to know what you think!

    Saturn is being presented to you this evening by On Star! Who will call 9-1-1 when *your* airbags deploy?

    Neptune is being presented to you this evening by Microsoft. When do you want your computer to crash, today?

    Uranus is being presented to you this evening by Preparation-H. It's not just for removing bags from a model's eyes you know!

    Pluto is being presented to you this evening by Walt Disney World. Celebrate the magic!


    (1) Who gives a shit if Abba is signed with Arista or not. Don't be so anal-retentive.
  • Let's say you wanted to loft an ad into space that would last for a short time in LEO before reentering and burning up. How big would the ad have to be to be readable, assuming it had the the name of your company printed on it?

    Let's say the ad orbits at the same altitude as the space shuttle -- around 185 miles (~300 km). If the banner subtends half a degree of arc -- the same as the moon -- it would have to be about 3.2 miles long (assuming I did my trig right). I think we could probably produce some k

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus