Shopper buys $6m rocket launch in China

China hosted 'the world’s first live broadcast of a rocket sale' Image copyright Taobao/Sina Weibo
Image caption Taobao confirmed that this was no April Fools joke

An online buyer has won an opportunity to launch a commercial rocket for 40 million yuan ($5.6m; £4.5m) in central China, it's reported.

According to the official People's Daily, popular online shopping platform Taobao live-streamed the sale of a commercial rocket yesterday evening.

The official China Daily said that the rocket was "a small launch vehicle" in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, which has already seen eight commercial launches.

Buyers were told that they could paint the body of the rocket and the launch platform, and that they could visit the launch site and control the launch.

Image copyright Taobao/Sina Weibo
Image caption Celebrity sales anchor Wei Ya has more than seven million Weibo followers

Posters advertising the livestream, headed by celebrity shopping anchor Wei Ya, went viral on Wednesday 1 April, leading many to speculate they were part of an April Fools joke.

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But national newspaper Global Times says that Taobao confirmed that "this is for real" in an online post.

It hints that the decision to sell a rocket experience, headed by Chinese entrepreneur Luo Yonghao, followed an earlier online poll where netizens were asked whether they'd rather win a "rocket, a satellite, a partner or a cleaning lady".

'How to choose the first rocket in your life?'

China Daily says that this was "the world's first live broadcast of a rocket sale" and the livestream has attracted considerable attention online.

More than 620,000 Weibo users have used the hashtag #WeiYaSellsARocket and more than two million online viewers tuned in to watch the sale.

Media have noted that the livestream of the event, watched by millions, has been an opportunity to re-promote what Wuhan has to offer, since it made international attention as the original epicentre of the Covid-19 virus.

As well as promoting Wuhan's Aerospace Science and Technology & Rocket Technology, the livestream was also interspersed by footage highlighting the hard-working efforts of medical workers in the city.

The name of the buyer has not been revealed, but this is not the first time that an online buyer has purchased an air vehicle for millions of dollars. In November 2017, two Boeing 747 jets were bought on Taobao in an online auction.

Image copyright Taobao/Sina Weibo
Image caption Taobao confirmed shoppers could buy a rocket on their platform

Reporting by Kerry Allen

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