Watch SpaceX's Inspiration4 launch and experience product placement history | MCU Times

Watch SpaceX’s Inspiration4 launch and experience product placement history

On Wednesday night, SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission launched the very first civilian crew ever in Earth’s orbit. Using companies including Sam Adams and Martin Guitars, the three-day trip to space aims to raise $ 200 million for St. Martin. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in what is equivalent to a charitable spin on the new market for very expensive joyrides for space. The fact that the mission is filled with branding opportunities is not surprising, as private space launches are already massive multi-channel streaming and media events.

Jared Isaacman, billionaire founder and CEO of e-commerce company Ship4Payments, is financing the much-discussed trip. The crew also includes the mission pilot, Sian Proctor, professor of geology; Hayley Arceneaux, A St. Jude Medical Assistant; and Chris Sembroski, an engineer who won his ticket in a raffle. None of the passengers are professional astronauts, and they will rely on SpaceX’s autonomous Crew Dragon capsule to ensure the mission runs smoothly.

The Inspiration4 capsule started shortly after 8 pm ET and was carried into space by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket before entering Earth’s orbit about 80 miles beyond the International Space Station (ISS). After about three days of zero gravity and magnificent views – not to mention activities like a ukulele – performance and a video call to a St. Jude patient The crew returns to Earth, and in late September, Netflix releases a finale in its five-part reality TV series about the mission. (The first four episodes of the show are already available to watch, and Netflix is ​​livestreaming the launch on its YouTube page.)

The mission also involves a motley payload of equipment and collectibles, including items that will be put up for sale at a charity auction after the crew returns to Earth. These items range from space-themed watches made by IWC to filled rocket ship toys based on characters from the animated Netflix series Space Racers. There is one $ 2,000 Martin Guitar ukulele that Sembroski will play on board. And Inspiration4’s official beer producer, Sam Adams, also made sure that 66 pounds of hops went to space and will brew beer with them when the mission lands (the beer can be purchased later in the fall). Perhaps the strangest of the topics is a wide range of non-spongy tokens stored on iPhones, including an NFT recording of a Kings of Leon song set to become the first music NFT has ever played in space. Bidding on these items starts on Thursday and the auctions end in November.

The watchmaker IWC designed Inspiration4-themed watches that crew members will wear during their time in space.
Greetings from Inspiration4

While selling things that have been in the space is not new, it is becoming much more common. NASA, a government body subject to congressional oversight, has traditionally restricted the commercialization of space missions. But as the number of non-NASA spaceflights has grown, so have the opportunities for space-bound goods and product placement. Because commercial space companies do not necessarily operate under NASA’s strict restrictions, there is a race to seize new marketing opportunities in the cosmos: to send products into space before selling them back to Earth.

A short history of space products

NASA itself typically does not sell things that have been in space, but items from NASA missions have previously found their way into the market. Meanwhile, astronauts are civil servants and are not legally allowed to personally serve on their positions until they retire from government work, which limits when they can sell personal items they are allowed to take on their missions. Other valuables that have been in space on NASA missions are typically offered to museums or, in rare cases, sold by the government.

Some of the most notable things that have taken the trip to space and back before being sold to the public have come from astronauts from The Twins, Apollo and Mercury programs, some of whom accidentally rescued equipment from their missions. Regulations about what astronauts could keep from these initial missions constituted oral agreements at the time, which has led to some controversy over who was entitled to the artifacts. But in 2012, President Barack Obama signed a bill confirming that these astronauts actually had property rights over many of these memories. Now these items sell for large sums: A bag from the Apollo 11 mission used by Neil Armstrong to transport samples of lunar dust sold at Sotheby’s in 2017 for $ 1.8 million.

NASA also has strict rules against advertising or approval of products, and it makes very little out of merchandise with branding or iconography. While the space agency’s various logos have appeared on everything from Vans shoes to Forever 21 peaks, the image is in the public domain, which means it’s free for everyone to use.

“People have seen what the historical flying goods have sold for and understand that there is a market for that material and that these things are valuable and collectibles,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global head of science and pop culture working with astronauts about memento auctions. “The reason they were flown originally – there was no commercial purpose behind it. Their value is truly historic. ”

NASA has begun welcoming some commercial deals in recent years. In 2019 became space agency formally announced that it would provide 90 hours of crew time annually for astronauts to perform marketing activities commissioned by private companies. For example, Estée Lauder last year paid astronauts to take pictures of a face serum in zero gravity on the ISS. The ISS National Lab also has entered into a partnership with Adidas to test his football at the station, although it is unclear how useful it is to test a football in space.

All of this means that product placement and promotional stunts in space have historically happened without the U.S. Space Administration. However, they have had the help of Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA. Over the last few decades, Russia’s space agency has helped advertise milk, Windows, Pepsi, and even Pizza Hut personal pizzas. And if Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey is an indication of what is to come – the movie featured a Hilton hotel on the moon – the trend of private companies using space as a marketing opportunity will only grow.

“This space exploration is not just about exploring the scientific or technical frontiers,” explains Scott Pace, director of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute. “It’s also researching, do you know where the economy can go? Where do we expand economic activities beyond the Earth? ”

Commercial space travel means that space equipment is becoming more common

Three private space companies have already started launching very wealthy civilians in space: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and now Elon Musk’s SpaceX. All three companies have not only sold their own products, but have also paved the way for branding and space-themed marketing opportunities.

Virgin Galactic, for example, partnered with Under Armor to sell branded products sportswear, including “spacecraft”, Which Virgin Galactic customers carry on their flights and take home afterwards. The space tourism company also partnered with Land Rover to create an Astronaut Edition Range Rover available for humans only who have purchased tickets on a Virgin Galactic flight. The SUV includes a space-planed puddle light as well as cup holders made from a piece of the landslide from one of Virgin Galactic’s first flights.

Blue Origin similarly used the launch of its first crew mission, which included Bezos itself, to debut the first electric car from Rivian (one of the carmaker’s biggest investors is Amazon, where Bezos used to work).

However, a few of these kinds of marketing opportunities happen more serendipitously. After Bezos threw Skittles across the space capsule on its Blue Origin flight in July, for example, Skittles quickly announced that it would release a time-limited candy pack called “Zero-G Skittles.” Candymaker told Recode that the move was not coordinated in advance.

Although the trend in space-based branding and marketing campaigns seems to show the worst qualities of American capitalism, some argue that there is a greater good in it all. Most people cannot afford a ticket to space, as the prices of space tourism missions are still in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But goods and collectibles from these commercial missions mean that private space companies can still sell consumers the feeling that they are at least a part of this moment in space history for much less money.

“By flying with our brands, we’re going to fly with them,” Robert Pearlman, a space historian who runs the space collectibles site collectSpace, Recode said. “We get to see a little more of ourselves in how spaceflight unfolds and say, ‘Yeah, I may not be able to afford a plane to space, but I’m eating Skittles.'”

Sponsored content from celebrities in the space may not be far away either. Lots of celebrities has already booked tickets at Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Galactic already plans to bring a TikTok scientific influence on one of its forthcoming flights. Meanwhile, the private space carrier Axiom Space has entered into several flights from SpaceX, offers a space-themed “content innovation platform” that helps companies create product demonstrations and create ads in the space. More space-based reality TV is also underway, including competition exhibitions aimed at sending civilians into space. Discovery Channel is developing a called Who wants to be an astronaut, and earlier this year NASA signed a show called Space Hero who sends a lucky participant to the ISS.

While commercial space travel feels exciting right now, the news for billionaires and ordinary people traveling to space for fun may not last forever. But the Inspiration4 mission is aware of the historical nature of its flight and seeks to harness the enthusiasm – for charity – that comes with such an event. We will see how much people will be willing to pay for a piece of that story when the mission lands.

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