Sky Billboards In Fact And Fiction

The Federal Aviation Administration intends to amend its regulations; the FAA wants to make sure it can enforce a law that prohibits "obtrusive" advertising in zero gravity.

"Objects placed in orbit, if large enough, could be seen by people around the world for long periods of time," the FAA said in a regulatory filing.

Enormous billboards in low Earth orbit might subtend the same angle as the Moon, hindering astronomers.


(Billboards in space?)

The FAA is actually too late to stop private businesses from launching obtrusive objects that interfere with astronomers. The satellites launched to enable the Iridium satellite phone system produced a bright reflected glare under certain conditions, annoying astronomers.


(From Iridium Flare Photos)

The first person to think seriously about enormous sky advertisements (as far as I know) was Jules Verne. In his 1889 story In the Year 2889, he wrote about atmospheric advertising:

Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements reflected from the clouds, so large they may be seen by the populations of whole cities or even entire countries.
(Read more about atmospheric advertising)

See No billboards in space; see this page on Iridium Flares.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/20/2005)

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