When Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space wearing prominent Red Bull logos on his spacesuit, advertising CEO Larry Woodard got excited. Could we, he asks in a column for ABC News, be on the verge of a new age of ad-sponsored science? "Red Bull stayed right on message," Woodard observes—if this isn't "giving you wings" what is?—and reaped tens of millions in free publicity. That success might look attractive to some big-time corporations.
Nike says it already supports sport- and body-related research, and Coca-Cola says it supports "independent research" designed to "promote active, healthy living." Not exactly sending men to space, but it's a start. And lest you doubt the scientific merits of Baumgartner's stunt, the AP talked to NASA engineers who say it could definitely improve spacesuit design and emergency escape systems for astronauts. "It was Mach 1.24, which is really huge," says the head of Red Bull's medical team. "We learned a lot." (Read more Felix Baumgartner stories.)