From advertising on the ISS to global dominance
Anton Ossovsky - SKOLKOVO MBA graduate,
“Our development is a satellite systemprojecting images in the night sky. It allows us to form a logo image or text in the form of a new constellation. Many are surprised by the phrase "advertising in space", but in vain: from the very beginning of the development of the Final Frontier, the USSR and the USA pursued, among other things, image goals, and the same brands have been competing for a new sphere for a long time. Indeed, back in the distant 80s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi fought among themselves for the place of their products in shuttles. Advertising has been in space for a long time, we will simply bring it to a new level. "
Anton Ossovsky, founder of Avant Space
The heart of the project is lasers, which willinstalled spacecraft launched into orbit with an altitude of about 600 km. Each of the satellites is capable of creating the illusion of a star in the night sky, and a cluster of such devices is capable of creating the outline of a logo or words. In fact, this allows you to create a kind of "pixelated" image in orbit - just like they do on Earth as part of a drone show.
In addition to directly projecting an image,lasers Avant Space, according to the head of the company, will transmit a binary code. The code will contain a hyperlink to go to the customer's website: if the observer sees the logo in the sky, then he can instantly click on the link.
But to say that advertising from orbit will "take off" by 100%, apparently, is too early - colleagues in the space workshop are expressing concern about the plans of the Russian startup.
“Taking into account the increased number of launchesgroups of cubsats (Planet, Spire, Gom, Kepler, etc.), as well as groups for the orbiting Internet, I think that low orbits are already on the verge of governments introducing much stricter regulations on the terms of launching payloads into low orbit. There will certainly be many questions about the constellation of satellites for advertising, ”says Alan Gubiev, head of launch projects at Innovative Solutions In Space (Netherlands).
He also added that one should not forget aboutthe need to coordinate the launch with international agencies, register spacecraft and obtain a license. Here, according to Gubiev, Avant Space may face difficulties. As with the search for a customer who is willing to pay for advertising in orbit "taking into account the threat from space debris."
Anton Ossovsky's company, according to him, isnot a "startup fantasy": work is already underway, Avant Space has its own patent database. The technological solution consists of a developed satellite with an electric rocket engine, a laser projection system from space, an orientation and stabilization system of the spacecraft and its own control algorithms.
The technological base is already ready and undergoingtests on stands in laboratory conditions. Also this year successfully passed tests of a block of lasers that will project an image onto the Earth. The tests took place in the stratosphere: the company launched a laser unit at an altitude of about 30 km in order to confirm the design power level of the light source in conditions, as noted in Avant Space, close to space.
In addition to the very technology of displaying ads withorbits, Avant Space is developing both a high-frequency ion thruster as well as the satellites themselves. In fact, the project looks like "almost in-house": in any case, with regard to the technological basis.
Investment and profit
The company's problem at this stage is thatit does not make money with advertising yet, this project is under development. On Rusprofile, the company's revenue for 2019 is estimated at 16 million rubles - this year Avant Space sold a model of the GT-50 engine to VNIIEM corporation.
At the same time, the company claims a stable basisfor development: in 2019, Skolkovo approved a grant, according to which the company will receive 60 million rubles for two years. This, as the company says, is enough to continue the work, but a full-fledged project launch a priori implies the presence of a customer - otherwise what will be advertised?
“We are negotiating with a number of large companies:Russian and from abroad. I can't give you specific names, but you definitely won't be able to avoid news of this as soon as the first logo appears in the night sky, ”Ossovsky added.
According to him, the project will quickly pay off:the company's annual revenue after entering the space advertising market will be about $ 100 million per year. The figure is surprising, just like the company's plans, which imply a fairly quick exit to these indicators.
In 2021, Ossovsky's team plansto start creating a flight model of spacecraft. The launch of the first constellation of satellites of 20 vehicles is scheduled for 2023. According to the authors of the project, the future artificial constellation will become the brightest star in the night sky, comparable to the brightness of Venus.
In this sense, space advertising causesassociations with the Humanity Star project launched in 2018. It was an artificial star visible at sunset that could be observed for two months. Then astronomers complained about such "pollution" of the sky, to whom this bright object interfered with their scientific work.
As noted in Avant Space, the company takes into accountfeedback on projects that are at least somewhat similar to theirs. Therefore, the light on the satellites will turn on only at the moment of their flight over the megalopolises. This will allow minimizing light pollution and not disturbing the pilots: the maximum that they will see is just a couple of dozen "extra" stars. But these are not all the problems that a startup will face.
Censorship and rough edges
Will not save you from advertising coming from orbitAdBlock or isolation: you can't run away from the sky. It is one thing when it comes to a global brand, and another thing when the question becomes political: what cannot be “blocked” cannot be liked by everyone.
For example, in some countries, even a neutral and positive brand in the West may be perceived as an unwelcome imposition of a foreign agenda. Needless to say about other risks?
“It is difficult to say for sure how suchadvertising will violate the norms accepted in this or that state, no matter how similar in scale there are no examples in international law. But in any case, the sky is not a site, you can't just block it. Yes, while we are talking about advertising promoting "peaceful" brands, but if such technology is used for propaganda, the question is different. In the DPRK, for example, balloons with propaganda materials launched from South Korea are shot down. Plus, do not forget that in some countries an attack on spacecraft belonging to their national companies can be regarded as an act of aggression, ”said Alena Zhivotova, a lawyer, a member of the International Association of Russian-speaking lawyers.
Of course, Avant Space has the freedom to chooseclient, but it is impossible to predict all the risks here, especially taking into account modern realities in international politics. There is no talk of direct militarization of outer space, but who knows what will happen tomorrow - at first they only joked about propaganda on the Internet.
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