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How big will a space billboard have to be to be visible? can be seen to raise an interesting question.

Question: When was advertising on Earth from space first proposed? Who proposed it?

This can include artificial orbiting objects as well as projections on to natural objects.

Surely this can't be the first: Was there once a semi-serious space-art project planning to use solar reflectors to put a spot of light on the crescent Moon?

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  • $\begingroup$ If propaganda is considered a form of advertisement, then China's first satellite (DFH-1) qualifies. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ @user3528438 In that case can you name any country's first satellite that wasn't? Sputnk 1, Explorer 1, Bright Star-3, etc. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 12 at 5:16
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    $\begingroup$ But DFH-1 directly broadcasts propaganda music to the public. $\endgroup$ Aug 12 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ @user3528438 now you've piqued my interest, Sputnik 1 only beeped but it was "a beep heard 'round the world!" I'll do some reading up and maybe ask a question about this. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 12 at 10:44
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In Robert Heinlein's 1950 Novella "The Man Who Sold the Moon", the central character raises the possibility of using the moon as a billboard. He does not actually propose to do it, but he gets support from one company by suggesting that a competitor (with a simpler logo) might put its logo on the moon.

Even in the fictional world of the story, this was not a serious proposal, but just a strategy to get funding from a company. And, in any case, it was in a story. But an idea is an idea, and this is the first example I am aware of where such an idea has been introduced.

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    $\begingroup$ Clarke also suggested it in Venture to the Moon - I had remembered this as being about 1950 as well, but it turns out to have been a few years later. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Aug 12 at 7:11

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