Even though a lobbyist also thinks so, I think there's some promise in the idea of subsidizing or even outright funding your Mars rover via corporate sponsorship.

The downside of corporate sponsorship, though, is the risk of corporate control. You need a way to ensure that post-landing decisions are still 100% science-driven, and I don't know how you do that when you have a Nike swoosh visible in every shot.
5
1
Matej Zavrsnik's profile photoRalph H's profile photoLemmo Pew's profile photoJ. Steven York's profile photo
12 comments
 
There is no such thing as money with no strings attached.

I do think it is likely the dramatic increase in available capital would nonetheless result in more science capability, even if corporate interests played a factor.  

Have oil & gas interests expanded our understanding of geological processes, even though their specific interests are comparatively narrow?  I don't know enough about that industry, & the science behind it, to say.  Anyone else with greater knowledge care to chime in?
 
I don't see any huge problem with this, you just write a contract saying they get no influence or input after the stick is affixed. For the right fee companies will still sign up. It would only be worth it though if the total amount is going to significantly improve the amount of science that can get done.
 
The thing is, if it does become a significant source of funding, all decisions will have to take in to account whether the company will choose to contribute again.  It's never a one-off thing, and that is where corporate interests will assert themselves, regardless of what any one contract will say.
 
+Scott Maxwell this article expresses concerns similar to yours:

Private Funding for Science – A Good Idea?
http://backreaction.blogspot.it/2013/01/private-funding-for-science-good-idea.html

From the article:

“Money brings influence – influence that can conflict with democratic decisions, [...]"

“In a democratic nation, one cannot allow billionaires to decide as they please which way donations are used. It is the duty of the government, and thus in the end that of the citizens, to make the right decisions.”
tim hem
+
1
2
1
 
I think there is room for different funding models, but I dont really like that one much. The trick is you have to ensure it leads to additional funding, not just alternative. My worry would be as private sponsorship increased, the initial public capital would decrease.
For tht reason, its place would be bringing in private funding for projects from their inceptions, that wouldnt have been done otherwise -  I think Beagle 2 was an example of the way things could be done
 
+Robert Moser I believe that the ground-penetrating radar developed for gas exploration has been useful in archaeology (finding traces of buildings and pyramids) buried by time. 
 
As for the funding, I think that is a bad idea. Look what just happened to CNET. They gave a great review and top hinors to a product that their corporate owners (CBS) didn't like - they were suing the manufacturer- and we're forced to remove it.
 
If the business is so interested in supporting space exploration without strings attached, why not simply donating the money to NASA? With that stunt alone they could easily get plenty of air time if it was just for the marketing. But they probably expect something else as a reward for their money.
I'll speculate. For instance, mining in space is a big question, but still somewhat under the table. Imagine you bought the exclusive rights to exploit middle eastern deserts 100 years ago! :) So if mining was the long term goal for a private investor, it might later try to negotiate the agency more into mining-oriented goals then what the researchers otherwise wanted to examine. That is in best case. So I don't think this is a good idea.
Ralph H
 
It's easy enough to put a Nike banner on the images after they are downlinked.  No sense wasting bandwidth for a static image.
 
I have no problem with corporations doing science in space - if they're willing to do it themselves, not just piggyback on the ventures of NASA.
Go build your own GoDaddy rocket, we'll save you a crater or two to go have your naked girl beach party in.
Add a comment...