The future is here, and, uh… how to say this... NASA is renting out part of the International Space Station for companies like Budweiser to advertise their products and sell their beer.
On Friday, Budweiser posted a two-minute ad on YouTube introducing their partnership with Space Tango, a company that pays to use parts of the ISS laboratory. Space Tango rents that research space to companies like Budweiser, whose goal is to grow barley in microgravity and eventually create shitty beer.
Depressingly, 36 percent of people are more likely to buy products from companies that co-opt human wonder and curiosity about space. And in upcoming years, we should expect to see a lot more companies capitalizing off of this. Per the 2019 federal budget request for NASA released back in February, NASA will prioritize “fostering commercial expansion” in space.
The budget request also introduced The BioChip SpaceLab, financed by Space Tango and a handful of other companies, which would be rented out to companies looking to conduct microscopic research. While corporate-sponsored science is better than no science at all, let’s remember that the purpose of this research would be for the corporate gain of private companies, and these purposes don’t always serve the best interests of the general public (think Big Tobacco and oil).
Granted, NASA’s Center for the Advancement of Science in Space has rented research space in the ISS to pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly & Company and Novartis since 2011, as well as space real estate contractors like Space Tango.
It’s unclear which other major companies could be getting contracts like this in the future. It’s also not clear what stage of capitalism this is.“Late capitalism” should have been the end, but we might be beyond it and still going.