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Elon Musk's SpaceX may launch a tiny Canadian satellite that will livestream ads from space: report

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket similar to the one seen here will launch a Canadian satellite that will beam ads from space in 2022 as part of a separate mission bound for the moon.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket similar to the one seen here will launch a Canadian satellite that will beam ads from space in 2022 as part of a separate mission bound for the moon. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX plans to launch a Canadian advertisement-beaming satellite into space that will eventually accept payments in Dogecoin, according to a media report.

Canadian startup Geometric Energy Corp. plans to send the advertising system to orbit on a small cubesat in early 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that's bound for the moon, Business Insider reported Aug. 7. (The cryptocurrency-fueled mission was disclosed publicly in May, but not the advertising bit.)

Keeping with the rideshare's cryptocurrency mission theme, purchasing advertisements for the cubesat appears to be exclusively decentralized finance options, such as Ethereum. Dogecoin — based on a meme popularized by SpaceX founder Elon Musk — is expected to be available in the future, too; Musk, 49, is a long-time ardent supporter of bitcoin, Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Related: As Seen on TV: These Commercials Were Filmed in Space!

According to Business Insider, the cubesat will separate from the rocket before it goes to the moon, allowing the satellite to stay in Earth orbit. Next, a selfie stick will deploy from the cubesat to film a display screen. The footage will beam directly to Twitch or YouTube to allow anyone to watch the advertisements, Business Insider said.

"I'm trying to achieve something that can democratize access to space and allow for decentralized participation," Samuel Reid, CEO and co-founder of GEC, told Business Insider. "Hopefully, people don't waste money on something inappropriate, insulting or offensive."

Advertising on the cubesatrequires potential purchasers to buy tokens, which will be used to claim, locate and design a pixel. GEC will have five tokens available: two for location (Beta for the X coordinate and Rho for the Y coordinate), two for pixel control (Gamma for the brightness and Kappa for the color), and XI for time — meaning, how long the advertisement will be displayed.

Anyone who is interested can buy tokens, although the purchase price hasn't been released yet. Reid also made what a possible allusion to the "space cola wars" that ran on space shuttle mission STS-51F in 1985. "Maybe Coca-Cola and Pepsi will fight over their logo and reclaim over each other," he said.

Reid first got connected with Musk after teaching some of the billionaire's children at the SpaceX private Ad Astra school in California. He told Business Insider this situation allowed SpaceX to take notice of his business, after hearing nothing from the company from a cold-call proposal in 2018. Reid hasn't yet met Musk in person, but Business Insider said Reid expects the CEOs to connect "directly at some point."

SpaceX didn't comment when Business Insider contacted it about the cubesat cryptocurrency mission. In May, however, Musk did express a lot of enthusiasm about the larger rideshare mission, tweeting "To the mooooonnn!!"

Then fresh off a Saturday Night Live star appearance where Musk joked about memes and cryptocurrency, the SpaceX CEO claimed this rideshare mission would be the first use of cryptocurrency or memes in space.

Neither claim (the meme or the cryptocurrency) can be easily verified; that said, the cryptocurrency Blockstream has a satellite network that broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain as a backup for ground network interruptions.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.