Why NASA’s next rockets might say Budweiser on the side
The Washington Post
The constant creep of corporate America into all aspects of everyday life — from the Allstate Sugar Bowl to Minute Maid Park — may soon conquer a new frontier.
The final frontier.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has directed the space agency to look at boosting its brand by selling naming rights to rockets and spacecraft and allowing its astronauts to appear in commercials and on cereal boxes, as if they were celebrity athletes.
While officials stress that nothing has been decided, the idea could mark a giant cultural leap for the taxpayer-funded government agency and could run into ethics regulations that prevent government officials from using public office for private gain. Astronauts may be the most venerated employees in the federal government, but they are still civil servants bound by regulations.
NASA has steadfastly stayed away from endorsing any particular product or company — even going so far as to call the M&Ms astronauts gobble in space “candy-coated chocolates” out of fear of appearing to favor one brand of candy.
But during a recent meeting of a NASA advisory council made up of outside experts who provide guidance to the agency, Bridenstine announced he was setting up a committee to examine what he called the “provocative questions” of turning its rockets into corporate billboards the way advertisements decorate NASCAR race cars.
“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 said. “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.”