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Friday, October 1, 1999 Published at 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK


A rocket with extra pepperoni

The service module will form the ISS living quarters

Fast food giant Pizza Hut Inc is to put its logo on the side of the Russian rocket that will deliver into orbit the next stage of the multi-billion-dollar International Space Station.

The nine-metre (30-foot) ad will be slapped on a Proton rocket which is scheduled for a mid-November launch from Russia's space city, Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

The rocket will be carrying the long overdue service module that will act as the ISS's living quarters.

[ image: The Proton is due to go up in November]
The Proton is due to go up in November
Pizza Hut chief executive officer Mike Rawlings said the company is paying about half the price of a 30-second TV ad during the Super Bowl - currently up to $2.5 million - for rights to put the ad on the rocket.

He refused to name the exact price. Company officials had wanted to use lasers to shine a giant logo on to the surface of the moon, but they started looking for an alternative promotional idea when they learnt that the image would have to be as big as Texas to be seen by earthlings more than 380,000 kilometers (238,000 miles) away.

The Proton launch will now be the centrepiece of a major space-oriented ad campaign, including commercials featuring the blastoff and in-store promotions.

[ image: The ad will be nine metres high]
The ad will be nine metres high
"This opportunity has so much credibility and so much excitement for people, and we're real excited about making it happen," Mr Rawlings said.

It's not the first time an American company has paid the cash-starved Russian space programme for an ad. PepsiCo Inc. paid $5m three years ago to have cosmonauts float a replica of a soda can outside the Mir space station.

The 41-year-old pizza chain is trying to overhaul and update its image by spending $500m to modernise its restaurants.

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