Astronomical advertising

In a science fiction novel Three-body problem the writer Liu Qixin has an episode when the main character begins to see numbers with a countdown before his eyes. Nobody else sees it. Nobody knows what happened to him, and most importantly, no one knows what will happen when the countdown is reset. Almost going crazy with fear, the main character still understands that this was psychological pressure on him using alien technology. No, this is not a spoiler, and if you were looking for an interesting book in the genre of science fiction to read, then I recommend the book “The Problem of Three Bodies”.

If such technology existed in our modern reality, then with a high probability it can be assumed that it would be used for advertising, which was broadcast around the clock directly to our heads. Such devices have not yet been invented, but we are moving in the direction of more and more advertising. And starting from 2022, advertising will be broadcast from space.

Project “Constellation” from a Russian startup Avant space provides a unique opportunity to display advertisements in the night sky. For customers, this opportunity will cost $ 10 million. The project provides for the formation of a constellation of small satellites equipped with a laser system for projecting images in the night sky.
After signing a contract with the customer, Avant Space will manufacture the required satellite system within 24 months and ensure their launch into orbit. Such a group will operate for a year, showing the customer’s “banner” from space. Two dozen satellites flying in one group will line up in a certain image, clearly visible from Earth. According to calculations by Avant Space, space advertising will reach more than 1 billion people around the planet. Inhabitants of more than 130 largest cities will be able to see it.

As explained by the founder of Avant Space Anton Ossovsky, the price of $ 10 million is fair for the company, which will become the first client. “Further, the amount of impressions will be about $ 1 million per month. In fact, this is an investment that covers the cost of the satellites themselves (at least 20 of them are needed) and their launch into orbit. In addition to a significant discount due to the gigantic audience coverage, the first client will become a participant in an exclusive contract that implies placement in orbit for a whole year. And we assume that our annual revenue will be about $ 100 million per year, ”he said. “The cost still depends on the brand, the number of pixel satellites. One pixel, one satellite. If we are talking about “Coca-Cola”, then we need conditionally 100 such devices, and if we show “M” from McDonald’s, then we need 20. This is a completely different price, “he said.

The head of the company shared that when creating a startup, he followed the exclusion method, looking for his own commercial niche, free from competition. He said that there had already been advertising in space – in 1996, an inflatable Coca-Cola can was deployed at the Mir station, and an image of a pizzeria brand appeared on the Proton rocket. “We thought it would be cool to send the advertiser’s brand into space to make it unattainable for competitors,” Ossovsky said. According to him, satellites in orbit will not only line up in an inscription or logo of the customer’s company, they will send a light Morse code. “Our advertisement will be in the form of a new constellation with the logo of the brand, which will fly over the city for three minutes. The lasers of our satellites not only project the brand logo on the night sky, but also transmit a binary code that contains a hyperlink to the customer’s website. The code from the satellites is read by the smartphone camera, like a QR code, within two to three seconds and offers to open the link in the browser. Such advertising can attract global online companies that care about the scale and speed of information dissemination. “
The technical feasibility of the Sozvezdiye project in September 2020 was confirmed by specialists from the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (part of Roscosmos).

The calculations were confirmed during tests that were carried out in the stratosphere. The future artificial constellation of satellites will become the brightest star in the night sky, comparable to the brightness of Venus. A block of lasers was launched into the stratosphere at an altitude of about 30 km in order to confirm the design power level of the light source in conditions close to space. At the same time, the developers note that the glow will not interfere with astronomers. The lasers will be switched on only during the flight over the megacities and will be focused in such a way as not to go beyond them.

Avant Space will agree with the advertising customer on the details of the flight mission: the constellation shape, the number of satellites, the time and place of the brand’s first appearance, a list of subsequent locations and the total operating time of the system. The production and launch of satellites will take 24 months, and the deployment of the system in space will last another 6 months. As a result, the total implementation period before the first appearance of the customer’s logo in space will take 30 months.

According to the company itself, special permissions are not required to launch and display ads from space.
Today human activity in space is regulated by international treaties, of which only two regulate general issues. it Treaty on the Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, entered into force in 1967, and 1979 Agreement on the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies… Treaties of a special nature include the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space and the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space. And there is also a more modern Law of the Russian Federation of August 20, 1993 “On space activities”… In general, international treaties allow any commercial activity that does not harm people on Earth and is not related to weapons programs and military operations.

What will happen to ads in cloudy weather?

The company says that this is a force majeure that cannot be influenced yet. The customer will have two options: either change the location, or choose a different date for the satellites to fly over the desired city.

In February 2020, Andrei Divaev, director of the project implementation department of the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), announced that the first two microsatellites with laser diodes, with the help of which it will be possible to write messages in the sky, will go into orbit in 2022.

Back in March 2020, the main characteristics could be found on the Avant Space website ion engine companies, comparison with other similar devices, analysis of the small satellite market and other information. Now there is no documentation left, the site is completely dedicated to the advertising project in space.
“We left only information about the key characteristics of advertising technology in space, and transferred the technical documentation to the confidential information mode, as we are preparing an application for a patent for an invention,” Ossovsky explained.

“This device, simple at first glance, controls truly complex plasma processes and makes it possible to accelerate the working fluid of the engine to speeds of tens of kilometers per second. The basic scheme is not new – we just tried to make the plasma discharge itself as efficient as possible by exciting helicon waves, ”says Yana Harlan, co-founder and general director of the Avant Space project.

Ultra-precise control of the satellite, transfers to other orbits, the ability to rebuild the constellation, and all this with the steepest specific impulse in a very miniature form. For example, our entire engine management system is a 10 * 10 * 10 cm cube, and in the old days such a system for an ion engine weighed almost as much as an adult.

The working fluid of the engine is injected into the discharge chamber. The engine can run on xenon, argon, krypton, or even iodine. At this stage, tests are carried out with xenon. An inductor connected to an RF generator creates an alternating electromagnetic field. It interacts with free charges in the discharge chamber, and as a result of collisions between particles, xenon atoms are ionized. The positively charged ions are directed to the ion-optical system, where a constant electric field between the electrodes accelerates them to tens of km / s. The ion flow created in this way generates thrust.

The device is designed for satellites weighing 50-500 kg. Possible applications are not limited to LEO (Low Earth Orbit), but also include deep space missions. Due to the very high specific impulse, the use of the engine on board the spacecraft can reduce the mass of fuel required for the mission and increase the satellite’s service life. All required subsystems are included with the GT-50. The overall system architecture is modular, which makes it flexible, and its integration into a spacecraft is cheaper and easier.

Avant Space is developing a high frequency ion thruster and control system for small spacecraft. In 2016, the company was founded by Anton Ossovsky, a former employee of the space company. Dauria aerospace and the Fifth Generation experimental design bureau.

In November 2017, Ossovsky for the first time spoke about ground tests of an ion engine with an external magnetic field… The first models of the GT-50 and GT-100 engines were tested in the Plasma Physics laboratory of Moscow State University.

Avant Space has been a Skolkovo resident since its foundation. For four years, the company received 35.4 million rubles in grants. In 2019, the fund approved a grant for 60 million rubles for two years, but the company received only 30 million rubles. Another 30 million rubles had to be contributed by the co-investor, but after the change in the development concept and the redistribution of funds, the second stage of financing was abandoned.

According to Skolkovo, Avant Space Systems ended 2019 with a revenue of 16.1 million rubles. Avant Space has sold a laboratory model of the GT-50 engine with some subsystems to VNIIEM, Ossovsky said.

The company showed its first microsatellite based on the Cubesat 16U platform with its own electronic rocket engine GT-50 in August 2019 at the MAKS air show. The system will control the movement of the microsatellite and maintain its position in orbit, explained in Avant Space.

In addition, a mobile constellation tracking application is currently in development.



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