Custom Watches, Netflix Plush Toys and NFTs: Merch Enters Orbit Aboard SpaceX Launch (for Sale Later on Earth)
We’re living in an age where commercial space travel is finally a reality. SpaceX just sent four non-astronauts into the endless abyss of space, with the promise of more commercial trips in the future from other companies like Virgin Galactic.
That SpaceX trip didn’t just include the lucky few who were able to see the Earth from orbit. It also included some merchandise from the voyage’s sponsors, and other commemorative items. Among the merch aboard the launch were spaced-themed watches from IWC, a Martin Guitars ukulele and stuffed toys promoting a Netflix show.
Sam Adams, which served as the trip’s "official beer maker," sent 66 lbs. of hops to space, and will use them to brew a special beer once they return to Earth. Those other items, like the ukulele and toys, will be auctioned off for charity, too.
The ship is also carrying a lot of merch into orbit, including a ukulele from Martin Guitar and 66 pounds of hops for Samuel Adams—“the official beer of Inspiration4.” pic.twitter.com/SDAHM2XbOF
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) September 15, 2021
In addition to the physical products going into space, the crew aboard Inspiration4 brought some pieces of space-age content technology: NFTs. Among multiple NFTs on iPhones, the crew will be bringing an exclusive Kings of Leon song that will only be available as an NFT, and will become the first NFT ever played in space.
Just like how an NFT’s ownership history and exclusivity dictate its price, a product going to space should have more value than it would if it stayed on Earth. Martin makes a fine instrument already, but that ukulele has a little bit of an extra sparkle knowing it was played in zero gravity.
Recode pointed out that as commercial space flight becomes more common, there will likely be a push for product placement. Even though these companies are run by gazillionaires like Elon Musk and Richard Branson, there is plenty of room for sponsorship from commercial entities. And since these companies can actually sell merchandise for profit, unlike NASA, whose logo is public domain, there’s a lot of opportunity for co-branding.
Items up for auction or for sale can now go beyond just the necessary items used by the astronauts. You can bring stuffed animals and hops to space for the sole purpose of eventual terrestrial commerce. These commercial space travel companies can put their logo on just about anything they want and sell it in conjunction with the launch.
NFTs will certainly play a role, since they're sort of the marketing item du jour, but it’s clear that physical products will always be included, too. Maybe Kings of Leon will release some special space-themed shirts for this release.