Anonymous Bidder Buys Actual $5.6 Million Rocket in Online Auction
8 April 2020 - autoevolution
With the bulk of the world’s population in self-isolation to help contain the spread of COVID-19, online purchases have skyrocketed. Even for actual rockets.
You can buy almost anything online, with a little determination, and enough money and time on your hands. As it turns out, this now applies to space rockets as well, since an anonymous bidder purchased a KZ-1A in an online auction held in China on April 1.
Indeed, that's April Fools Day, but LiveScience reports that the auction was as legit as they come. ExPace, a commercial subsidiary of the defense contractor the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), developed and sold the rocket, in partnership with Taobao, the largest e-commerce platform in the world. The auction was announced in advance and attracted over 2 million viewers when it streamed live – and some 500 million views later, on social media.
Many of those who tuned in assumed the auction was some sort of prank, especially since it had secured some 800 deposits in just 5 minutes – with the buyer showing up shortly afterwards. Some days later, it was still widely assumed that this had been the case, but the aforementioned media outlet confirms its legitimacy and says the launch is planned for April.
As part of the $5.6 million package, the new owner gets the Kuaizhou-1A rocket, a launch, custom paintjob on the rocket, access to the launch site and the option to control the launch. The KZ-1A is usually used to launch satellites into lower-Earth orbit.
"CASIC plans to launch the KZ-1A rocket with new satellites onboard later this April," LiveScience says. "The launch, sponsored by Chinese automaker GAC, will be dedicated to the medical workers of the city of Wuhan in China, where the COVID-19 outbreak, which is now a global pandemic, first started to grow."
As of the time of press, the identity of the buyer has not been made public. The BBC notes that this isn't the first time an air vehicle changes hands on Taobao: in November 2017, two Boeing 747 were sold in an online auction.