Most of the marketing around Earth Day is centered around our beautiful, yet delicate, planet. But a Los Angeles purpose-driven creative agency launched a cheeky campaign that focuses on the unappealing alternative – Mars.
The agency paid for a digital billboard to go live on Earth Day across from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, with the caption: "Mars Sucks." (A representative for Mars declined to comment.)
"We wanted to make a statement that would catch the world's attention, with the sole purpose of encouraging people to see the importance of prioritizing Earth," wrote Paco Conde and Beto Fernandez, founders of the agency Activista, in a joint email to dot.LA. "With SpaceX and Elon Musk representing Mars, the digital billboard outside SpaceX's HQ gave us a unique opportunity to make our statement that Mars can wait, but Earth can't – all in good humour, with a wink and a smile."
SpaceX is aiming to ferry tourists to Mars as soon as 2024.While seen as the most likely other planet in our solar system to host intelligent life, the Red Planet leaves a lot to be desired – with no breathable air, temperatures averaging a chilly -8 F and going as low as -220F, and punishing dust storms lasting months on end.
Conde and Fernandez say they are baffled as to why billionaires such as Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are so intent on going to Mars.
"We see some of the smartest and richest people on this planet dreaming of Mars," they wrote. "A hellhole that sucks. Really? Imagine if we had these same brilliant minds putting their genius into the climate crisis we're facing right now."
While the billboard will only be on display for 24 hours – until 6am PST Friday – a website and social media campaign will live on with the anti-Mars message. Visitors to the website are encouraged to donate to environmental groups.
Elon Musk has not responded to the billboard but plenty of others worldwide, including Russia's state news agency, have taken note on social media.
'Mars sucks' billboard springs up near SpaceX HQ to troll Elon Musk, media says @SpaceX @elonmusk https://t.co/XsUiF0e3LO— Sputnik (@Sputnik)1619119860.0
Earth Day shade in front of Space X headquarters. https://t.co/I7NMFeBrtw https://t.co/Fzf2zNqNh4— Bill Weir (@Bill Weir)1619102696.0
Une agence trolle Elon Musk avec sa campagne “Mars sucks” #journeemondialedelaterre https://t.co/AdEde0MfiR— la Réclame (@la Réclame)1619118540.0
🌍🌎🌏 Happy Earth Day 🌍🌎🌏— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1619125064.0
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Elon Musk's SpaceX is promising to launch four civilians into orbit by next year, an ambitious goal that would mark the first commercial crew launch if completed successfully.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, CEO of Pennsylvania-based payment technology firm Shift4 Payments Inc., is financing the trip, chartering the Dragon rocket and donating three seats. The remaining three people joining Isaacman will be announced in coming weeks, SpaceX said Monday.
The launch is nicknamed Inspiration4 and is a charitable effort to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Isaacman said he will give two of the seats to St. Jude including an "ambassador with direct ties to the mission" from the hospital.
There isn't a clear destination for the trip; SpaceX has just said it will launch into low earth orbit and remain there for several days. Musk definitely has his sights on interplanetary travel, though; he's been open about lofty desires to get people to Mars by 2026.
The Hawthorne-based aerospace firm is targeting "no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year" to send private citizens into space from its outpost at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
To be considered for one of the remaining two seats, passengers must either donate to St. Jude's or open a business profile with Shift4 Payments' ecommerce site and share their entrepreneurial story to a panel of celebrity judges, who will decide the winner. Official crew selection will happen Feb. 28, according to the mission's website.
"Inspiration4 is the realization of a lifelong dream and a step towards a future in which anyone can venture out and explore the stars," Isaacman said in a statement. "I appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with commanding this mission and I want to use this historic moment to inspire humanity while helping to tackle childhood cancer here on Earth."
SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rockets are designed for industrial missions -- like launching satellites or carrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. In May, the Crew Dragon flew a crew to the ISS from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. The spaceship will now also be used for commercial trips.
"The Inspiration4 crew will receive commercial astronaut training by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, zero gravity and other forms of stress testing," SpaceX stated, adding that the crew members will also be trained to handle outer space emergencies, entering and exiting the spacecraft, and be given mission simulations prior to going to space.
It's unclear how much each seat on the Inspiration4 mission cost Isaacman, but the cost of a non-NASA seat aboard the Crew Dragon is estimated to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $55 million.Boeing is also working on similar technology -- in 2014 Boeing and SpaceX began working to develop independent space taxis with a shared $6.8 billion grant from NASA. SpaceX and Boeing have both developed crew capsules and Boeing's first crewed Starliner rocket launch is expected later this year. Though both companies' commercial crew projects were funded by the government, they are free to also launch private missions.
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A federal judge wants SpaceX to explain next week how it will defend its decision to block a federal subpoena of hiring documents.
Judge Michael Wilner of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California has set a video conference hearing with lawyers for both sides on Feb. 8.
He said, in court documents, he will likely cover "how SpaceX plans to prove that compliance with the subpoena would be unduly burdensome for the company."
"I'd like to explore that topic (and probably others) with the parties before formal briefing begins," he wrote.
Last week, the DOJ asked an L.A. federal judge to order SpaceX to hand over Form 9 documents, which reveal employee citizenship status. The inquiry began with a complaint filed in May 2020 by a non-U.S. citizen, Fabien Hutter, who said SpaceX discriminated against him during a job interview.
The Hawthorne-based company valued at $60 billion had been ignoring subpoenas from the DOJ to release that information. SpaceX said the order fell beyond the purview of the DOJ's Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, but its request to revoke the subpoena was denied.
The Form 9 documents — federal lawyers argue — could show whether SpaceX demonstrates a pattern of not hiring U.S. citizens based on their citizenship status.
In his order, Wilner said that he is willing to discuss "other potential ways to resolve the action short of full-on legislation."
He also suggested both parties read his analysis from an "analogous (though clearly distinguishable) subpoena" in 2018 to a janitorial services company accused of sex discrimination and retaliation against three female employees.
He ruled in the case that a subpoena was relevant to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's investigation into "a broader pattern of misconduct at the company, including actions at another California job site, that may warrant a broader investigation."
"It also is expressly investigating class-based allegations," Wilner wrote. "This renders contact information about other employees relevant to the matter."
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