Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, asked a question two weeks ago.
"Is it possible for NASA to compensate some of its costs by selling the naming rights to its spacecraft?" He asked at a meeting in a council that holds NASA. "Or named rights to their rockets? I tell you there is interest for it right now."
Do not expect to see astronauts in Coca Cola commercials sometime soon, or NASA's Mars rover rebranded as curiosity taken off Aflac. But Mr. Bridenstine has asked a committee from the NASA Advisory Council to investigate whether it can be done, despite regulations or laws that seem to prohibit such activities. He also raised the opportunity to allow NASA astronauts to sign a signing agreement.
The proposal of NASA's new administrator comes at a time when the Trump administration has high targets in space, but has not asked the Congress to pay too much money for them. President Trump established a National Space Council last year, led by Vice President Mike Pence and wants to return to the moon. But the government's budget suggests that funding for NASA will remain flat until 2023.
In an interview on Tuesday, Bridenstine pointed to the rockets who took charge of the International Space Station. "We have branded opportunities there," he said.
Perhaps NASA astronauts can refer to children from cereal boxes as sports stars, or help raise awareness of NASA's mission, embed the agency into popular culture and help stimulate children to pursue careers in space.
But some critics worry that a NASA decision to make approval and trademark agreements can create conflicts of interest and reduce the agency's perception and public mission.
"Companies that can sponsor rockets or astronauts are really questioning who really calls the Scotts," said Timothy Farnsworth, spokesman for the Government Oversight project, an independent government officer. "If astronauts receive compensation from companies operating before NASA, it can form partitioned loyalty between a private company and public service."
Usually, federal employees are prohibited from approving commercial projects. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump, was accused of violating government's ethics rules last year when she told people to "go buy Ivanka's stuff", which approves the clothes and jewelry of Ivanka Trump.
Onion, Humor Publishing, Embedded in the Topic 14 years ago: "Coke-Sponsored Rover finds evidence of Dasani on Mars."
NASA's own document appears to prohibit such activities. A website from the Agency's General Council Office says: "The rule is simple: we may not use our public-private office. This includes our own private profits or someone else's."
It adds, "federal employees may not support their services , titles or other authority on products, services or activities of non-federal organizations . "
In the interview, Bridenstine acknowledged that federal employees generally failed to approve products but said that the committee would investigate any exceptions that would make it possible for the NASA astronauts to do that. He noted that there will soon be astronauts employed by commercial companies like SpaceX and Boeing, which will not be born of the traditional restrictions that apply to federal employees.
The military has trouble keeping pilots who can earn more and work less flying commercial jetliners, he said. "We can stop spending millions of dollars training every astronaut just to get them to go to work for someone else as soon as they are trained," he said.
Since NASA does not use the rocket launches for the space station, the agency may not be able to reduce branded revenues, but the rocket company can then make a lower bid for what it burdened NASA, "said Bridenstine. The mission's mission is under commercial agreements with NASA, by SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.
The committee is likely to make recommendations at the forthcoming quarterly meeting of NASA's advisory council, he said.  [ Sign up to receive reminders of space and astronomical events in your calendar .]
Company has long been trying to try out marketing opportunities in outer space. From 1968 to 1971, Pan Am issued more than 93,000 cards for his First Moon Flight Club. In 2000, the Pizza Hut logo came on a Russian rocket, and in the following year a radio shack advertised Russian astronauts aboard the international space station that opened a father's day gift.
"It is ironic that Russia is in front of us to take advantage of commercial activities at the International Space Station," says Bridenstine.
More recently, the KFC said in a campaign that it sent a fried chickenmack to space on a high altitude balloon. (It reached only the stratosphere, which is below the 62-mile height generally considered to be the limit of outer space.)
NASA has in recent years made greater pressure to bring capitalism to the International Space Station, opening opportunities for companies to conduct research there and hire commercial companies for cargo and astronaut transport. The privatization of the station has been discussed and discussed.
Branding and advertising are among the following steps, Bridenstine says, that future commercial space stations can come in. "This is another opportunity to prove a market."