Entrepreneurs aim to cash in on mania for orbiter souvenirs
While cynics doubt that the much-hyped lunar orbiter will have much impact on their lives, the successful launch yesterday certainly yielded up some interesting consumer goods.
Be it a commemorative paper fan printed with an image of the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e retailing for an astronomical 68 yuan, or an exquisite 880-yuan crystal and metal-alloy model of the orbiter sure to capture the hearts of true aerospace fanatics, businesspeople are milking the event for all it is worth.
Tucked away near the Beijing aerospace museum, a shop selling spacecraft models has been raking it in from sales of a Chang'e I model, which the owner claimed was manufactured by a military factory as freebies for army officials.
Demand for the model - with a crystal base and a metal-alloy body in scales of 1:30 and 1:50 - was so high that it was at first priced at 1,880 yuan, according to the shop owner, who gave her surname as Zhou. 'I started looking around for the model a year ago when people started asking me about this, and the first one sold for 1,880 yuan because it was really hard to get, but that person didn't care,' she said. Ms Zhou said that supplies had increased since, bringing prices down. In the last six weeks the shop had sold more than 20 1:30 models at 880 yuan each. Most customers were aerospace fans and military personnel but there were also a few Chinese buyers living abroad.
'This model is in limited supply, not every official can get a copy of it. And since a lot of people in the army are crazy about the satellite, some people bought it to please their bosses,' she said.
At Wangfujing Bookstore, science and aerospace book sales have increased 30 per cent this month year on year, following a similar pattern when the Shenzhou spacecraft were launched years ago, said Ge Fei from the store's publicity department.
But not all satellite-related souvenirs have been selling.
Wang Yi from Hefei was hoping to make a fortune by registering eight website domain names related to Cheng'e I, each for 150 yuan, in March. Now 20,000 yuan each, the domain names have attracted some inquiries but as yet no successful deal, Mr Wang said. 'I think their market value will rise once the satellite is launched successfully,' he said just before the orbiter lifted off.
The price an entrepreneur is asking for Chang'e I-related website names, in yuan: 20,000