30th March 2023 – (Beijing) Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao is expanding its offerings to include space services, with a new store called “China Aerospace Space Upgraded” selling three products including four different grades of civilian satellites, the “Space Bus Series – 200KG Grade Satellite,” a micro-satellite called “1U CubeSat,” and a “Space Selfie Payload Service.” These products range in price from 2 million CNY (HK$2.28 million) to 3 million CNY (HK$3.42 million) and cater to those with a fascination for space.
According to reports, it is the first time in the world that space satellites are being sold directly to the public through an e-commerce platform. These satellites are produced by China’s first commercial satellite factory, “Jiutian Weixing Tangshan Satellite Factory.”
The “Space Bus Series – 200KG Grade Satellite” is a satellite designed for multiple payload applications, supporting a one-to-many approach. It is a comprehensive carrier for remote sensing, communication, navigation, scientific exploration payloads, and has several advantages including a short production cycle, good performance, high reliability, and support for agile design. Through the multi-payload shared satellite platform, the use of satellite platform resources can be increased, reducing the cost of satellite research and development and launch for users.
The “Jiutian Weixing Selfie Payload Service” is a mature product that includes a controller, display screen, selfie stick, selfie camera, and cable. The display screen is installed on the surface of the satellite, and the selfie camera is set above the display screen. When the satellite enters space, it receives user image information sent from the ground control station. The display screen will show the user-uploaded image, taking a unique space selfie with Earth or space as the backdrop. When the satellite passes over the ground control station again, the selfie will be sent to the ground and then to the user.
As for the micro-satellite “1U CubeSat,” the product description says that it is a low-cost, small satellite that uses international standard specifications. It is widely used in university aerospace science research and education, and monitors oceans, atmospheric environments, ships, and aircraft. It is also used in communication, atmospheric research, biological research, and new technology testing. The advantages of this satellite include low cost, high functional density, and short development cycle.
The store also offers four additional “value-added services” for satellite buyers, including satellite naming rights, the ability to engrave company logos or names on the satellite, three opportunities to witness the launch in person, and an interactive opportunity with Jiutian Weixing’s orbiting satellite “Piaochong 1” in space, which flashes the customer’s specified information. Two camera positions are provided, and content options include long-exposure photos or a full video of the satellite flashing.
Reports suggest that Luo Yonghao, who was once known as the “number one salesperson” on Douyin, will sell these satellites in a live broadcast on Taobao on 31st March and plans to offer discount coupons to lower the prices.
Some netizens are skeptical of Taobao’s space services, with some expressing concerns about shipping and installation, and others saying that they doubt the satellite will actually be launched into space. However, there are also those who are excited about the opportunity to purchase a satellite.