April 1, 2000 -- According to documents obtained by NPR, a California-based company has developed a powerful laser that can project images on to the surface of the moon.
|NPR received this confidential diagram of LunarCorp's proposed advertising system|
The company, LunarCorp, was founded three years ago by Jack Libnitz who is best known for convincing the United States government to allow private companies to launch their own satellites. It was in 1986 that Libnitz came up with the idea to project images on to the moon's surface for the purpose of selling advertising. And, now, it looks as though his plan may become a reality.
|LunarCorp CEO, Jack Libnitz|
LunarCorp's laser was developed by a team of engineers and optical physicists lead by Ludo Fisher of the European Space Agency. Fisher says the science to project images on to the moon's surface has been available for more than a decade, but the cost has been prohibitive until now.
Legal experts say LunarCorp's plan is illegal, a violation of the 1969 International Lunar Treaty that banned commercial activity on the moon. Libnitz insists he's not worried about being sued. "I'm only sending an image into space," he says. "The moon just happens to be in the way."
|Lead Engineer Ludo Fisher|
On April 1st, LunarCorp will attempt to project the logo of an undisclosed company on to the moon's surface, which will be in half-moon phase on that day as seen from Earth. If it fails, says Libnitz, the company will try again on April 7th when the moon is full.
Listen to a Web-exclusive version of the interview with Jack Libnitz.
Hear more from NPR's David Kestenbaum on Weekend All Things Considered.