The mission to Mars, brought to you by. . .

Scientists suggest marketing mission as 'the ultimate sports and reality TV extravaganza'

For scientists and space buffs alike, sending astronauts to Mars is a long-standing goal. But a major impediment, notes scientist Rhawn Joseph in the Journal of Cosmology, is the $150-billion price tag of the mission—money he suggests could be raised through advertising.

Just as General Motors paid US$1 billion to sponsor the U.S. Olympic team at the 2008 Summer Games, corporations could bid to sponsor the mission, which “could easily raise $10 billion,” writes Joseph of the Brain Research Laboratory. During the 2010 Super Bowl, 30-second ads sold for about US$2.8 million apiece, numbers that would surely be exceeded during a Mars landing. And merchandising is a potential cash cow: annual revenue from Star Wars-related products, he notes, is about US$1.5 billion. “The human mission to Mars can be marketed and sold as the ultimate sports and reality TV extravaganza,” he writes. This, of course, banks on the fact that a high possibility of danger—even death—wouldn’t scare away potential advertisers.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.