Administration

NASA looking into selling naming rights for rockets to corporate brands: report

NASA is reportedly looking into selling naming rights to spacecraft and allowing astronauts to appear in advertisements for brands as part of a move to boost the agency's public profile.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was appointed by President Trump, announced at a recent NASA advisory council meeting that he was setting up a committee to look into the issue.

"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, according to The Washington Post. "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."

A recent study from the federally funded Science and Technology Policy Institute found that selling naming and branding rights could yield significant revenue for NASA.

Critics such as former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly argue that allowing brands to purchase ad space on rockets could present ethics conflicts for the agency.

Kelly told the Post that the move "would be a dramatic shift from the rules prohibiting government officials from using their public office for private gain."

Bridenstine also said at the advisory council meeting that having astronauts appear on cereal boxes, much like professional athletes do, would inspire kids and help the agency become "embedded into the American culture."

"I'd like to see kids growing up, instead of maybe wanting to be like a professional sports star, I'd like to see them grow up wanting to be a NASA astronaut or a NASA scientist," he said.

NASA is seeing a boost in its cultural popularity, with an increased interest in the possibility of space tourism and Hollywood movies highlighting the agency. A NASA multimedia liaison told the Post that requests to use the agency's logo on products and apparel are on the rise.

The Trump administration has taken steps to end government funding for the International Space Station and move toward privatizing the project in the coming years.

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