Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Billboard in Space Draws Furor on Earth

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposed Billboard in Space Draws Furor on Earth

Article excerpt

By Keay Davidson

San Francisco Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO _ A private company's plan to launch a mile-long billboard into space has triggered furious reaction from scientists and environmentalists angered at the thought of beer ads circling rudely in the night skies.

Just one day after announcement of the project, environmentalists and astronomers were decrying the "abomination in space." But the developer, Space Marketing Inc. of Roswell, Ga., sees potential for profit in outer space.

"It's very feasible," said Space Marketing Chief Executive Officer Mike Lawson. "We could actually fly (a corporate logo such as McDonald's) `Golden Arches' in space," and it might appear as large as the full moon.

Space Marketing hopes to launch the first space billboard in 1996.

The orbital advertising sign is being produced in collaboration with engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Colorado.

"It's horrifying," said Robert Park, spokesman for the American Physical Society, the nation's leading physics organization. "The thought that one would not be able to look at a starlit sky at night without having this thing intrude upon you is so obscene I think humanity has to rise up and stop this immediately.

"I hope this is a bad dream and it'll never come back. If NASA meant this when it said there'd be spinoffs from the space program, I think we should end the space program right now."

Yet the city of Atlanta is seriously investigating the idea as a promotional scheme for the 1996 Olympics there. And Lawson said five major companies have approached Space Marketing about the possibility of renting space for their logos aboard the billboard.

He said sponsorship for the project, which also would monitor Earth's environment, would cost $20 million to $30 million.

One space billboard defender says it's a chance for the United States to take the lead in a new mode of advertising. …

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