An anonymous patron bought a real rocket for $ 5.6 million at a live online auction on April Fool’s Day.
On April 1, a Kuaizhou-1A (or KZ-1A), a rocket developed by ExPace, a commercial subsidiary of the defense contractor, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), was put up for auction online. Cao Meng of ExPace announced the article at a live auction organized by Taobao, the world’s largest e-commerce site. In just five minutes, more than 800 people deposited 500,000 yuan (about $ 4,611.50) in deposit, according to CGTN.
The KZ-1A rocket, which is mainly used to launch small satellites in low Earth orbit, was quickly sold to an anonymous buyer for 40 million yuan, or about $ 5.6 million at the current exchange rate. The purchase of the KZ-1A service package includes a launch, custom rocket body paint and access to the launch site.
The KZ-1S rocket has three solid states and a liquid propellant upper stage. The rocket can deliver more than 441 pounds. (200 kg) payload on a sun synchronous orbit.
An Expace Kuaizhou-1A rocket to be launched from Jiuquan in April will be dedicated to medical personnel fighting the coronavirus in Wuhan. pic.twitter.com/sH5Nw4Z6qjMarch 30, 2020
CASIC plans to launch the KZ-1A rocket with new satellites on board later in April. The launch, sponsored by Chinese automaker GAC, will be dedicated to medical workers in the city of Wuhan in China, where the COVID-19 epidemic, which is now a global pandemic, has started to develop.
This collaboration between Taobao and the ExPace team has attracted more than two million viewers after the rocket auction, and the subject has been viewed more than 500 million times on the social media platform Sina Weibo to date (3 April), according to SpaceNews.
This commercial rocket sale is part of a new but growing commercial space sector in China. State-owned space companies are still the main source of space missions from China, but private companies are emerging and gaining support. In fact, in June 2019, regulations were issued to support the development of commercial space missions by the Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and the Department of Equipment Development of the Central Military Commission, according to CGTN.
The KZ-1A rocket, in particular, is limited to the launch of commercial payloads and launched eight times since its first takeoff in 2017. The company is currently developing the Kuaizhou-11 rocket, which should be launched for the first time in the first half of 2020. The new Kuaizhou-11 rocket will be able to transport 2,205 pounds. . (1000 kg) payload in space.