A Giant Leap For One Drink

The makers of Pocari Sweat, a Gatorade-like Japanese sports drink, plan to deposit the beverage in a deep pit on the Moon. This would make it the first commercial product to be delivered on the lunar surface. The project, slated for October, 2015, will involve the partnership of three space firms.

The drink will be ensconced in a time capsule called the Lunar Dream, to be built by Astroscale, a Singapore-based start-up, a company, which ironically, “develops technologies to clean up the space debris circulating near Earth.”

It’ll be carried up on Falcon 9 rocket, manufactured by SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk in 2002. The lander, known as the Griffin, will be provided by Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based robotics company.

People have been hurling similar messages in bottles into outer space for a long time.

[The twin Voyager probes], sent by NASA in 1977, each carried gold-plated, copper phonograph records. Recorded on each disk were works by Beethoven, Mozart, the Chinese zither master Guan Pinghu, the Indian classical vocalist Kesarbai Kerkar, and the rock-and-roll pioneer Chuck Berry, among others, as well as greetings in 55 languages.

In 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft took on its five-year voyage to Jupiter, specially made LEGO figurines of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife, Juno, and the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, each cast in aluminum, to endure the extreme conditions of space travel.

The U.S. fascination with projecting its culture into space nearly reached grotesque proportions in 1993, when an American company called Space Marketing, Inc., attempted to [send an] illuminated, Mylar-made billboard, in low orbit, which, from Earth, would appear roughly the size of the Moon.

The venture failed and led to legislation banning U.S. companies from advertising in space.

When it was later amended to permit “unobtrusive” sponsorship, in 2001, Pizza Hut spent a tidy sum to deliver a vacuum-sealed pizza to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

So far, all attempts to transport manmade objects outside Earth have been done either by or via a government agency—that is, NASA—with an eye toward space exploration. The Pocari Sweat undertaking is unique in that it “marks a shift toward all-private business ventures in outer space.”

Its cost aside, the adventure gives rise to a disconcerting scenario.  If more companies decide to enter into a race to hoist their brands on the Moon, that may, lead, eventually, to the commercial littering of our only satellite.



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