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NASA: Brought to You by Our Sponsors?

Dec. 3, 2018

NASA: Brought to You by Our Sponsors?

Former Astronaut, Petitioners Demand the Space Agency Not Become a Corporate Advertiser’s Dream

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A spacecraft, like the one used in today’s Expedition 58, could soon be covered in beer and cigarette ads if the Trump administration persuades the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to sell naming rights on rockets and space ships.

In August, Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator and a Trump appointee, said he was forming a committee to look into whether the agency should sell naming rights and advertising space to corporations for NASA spacecraft and allow astronauts to appear in commercials or on cereal boxes like celebrity athletes. The administrator added that the committee would be led by a high-level official at Maxar Technologies, a private space technology company.

In response, Public Citizen and Care2 launched a petition Friday, which already has received 16,456 signatures, demanding that the agency remain government-funded to ensure space exploration and critical sciences are not influenced by corporate interests. In recent years, the agency has outsourced many of its projects to private companies to save costs, but slapping logos on rockets and urging astronauts to act as brand endorsers would be one giant leap too far, Public Citizen maintains.

“Rockets named after Budweiser and astronauts peddling sugary cereal to kids: that could be the future of NASA if the Trump administration gets its way,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen. “NASA should pioneer a future that educates and inspires, not one in which public resources promote values of consumption and brand loyalty.”

“NASA is a shining example of American ingenuity, and aspiration of millions of young men and woman,” said Dr. Taylor Wang, a former NASA space explorer and the first Chinese person to go to space. “Selling it for a few dollars cheapens the dreams of those innocent minds.”

Opening NASA to naming rights and endorsement deals would undermine the agency’s mission and create substantial conflicts of interest, Public Citizen said. It also could result in Congress allocating less public funding for the agency in the future, which could be a first step in privatizing the agency.

”Care2 members are passionate about making the world a better place,” said Randy Paynter, founder and CEO of Care2, “We stand against the corporatization of a program that has long stood for idealistic values around the exploration of space for the good of humanity.”