Sale of materials which come from or have been in space (for that fact
rather than their intrinsic value) is currently a $2 million/year
market (CSTS, section 220.127.116.11.1, page 371;
this appears to be a rough number). CSTS
(section 18.104.22.168.1, page 371)
thinks it could be a $20 million/year market, but it isn't
clear to me what assumptions are behind that.
Selling lunar materials
Souvenirs" by Peter Kokh, Moon Miners Manifesto, Feb 1989,
as reprinted in "Market Surveys for Lunar Artifacts", Artemis Data
Book, section 3.4, offers some ideas for marketing lunar
materials. No economic analysis, though. "Possible
Moon Rock Merchandising Methods" by Clark Lindsey, Artemis Data
Book, section 3.4, has more ideas along with market issues (some
discussion of price points for example).
Lunar Rock Plaques to the Public, Artemis Data Book, section 3.4,
an economic analysis of selling very thin slices of lunar rock. They
would appear to be somewhat, but not outrageously, more optimistic
than the CSTS regarding volume (they project selling 600,000 plaques
but the CSTS, section 22.214.171.124.1, page 372,
claims actual volume at a $200 price point
would be more like 100,000 or somewhat less). As far as I know
neither the Artemis nor the CSTS numbers are based on any kind of
market research to speak of, and so both should be considered
One can imagine that the market for moon rocks might be somewhat
similar to the existing market for meteorites from the moon or mars.
For more on that market, see "Martian rocks
priced per carat", Florida Today Space Online, 18 Aug 1996;
note that the article's reference to "moon rock" almost surely means a
meteorite of lunar origin rather than a rock brought from the moon by
Applied Space Resources (to some extent historical, as sample
return is now only one of their planned revenue streams):
- 2000: "Investing in Space: The New Moon Race", SpaceViews, Jun
2000. Brief mention of Applied Space Resources talking about
multimedia as revenue stream.
- 1999: "SpaceViews Article: New Space Companies Seek Experienced
Leadership", SpaceViews, 11 Nov 1999, regarding appointment
of a Chief Technology Officer.
- late 1998: "Company Plans Lunar Giveaway", SpaceViews, Oct 1998,
regarding a plan to sell text and graphics space on Lunar Time
Capsules to be sent to the moon.
- 1998: "Returning to the Moon: Retrieving Lunar Resources", Applied Space
Resources news release, reprinted in Florida Today Space
Online, 13 Jan 1998, describes
a plan to return moon rocks and sell them "at a retail price
comparable to high-quality gemstones". Another good cite would be
"Commercial Lunar Sample Return", SpaceViews Update, 15 Jan
1998 (not sure it says a lot beyond from the news release above).
Another article is "Lunar Ice: Private Company's Mission-In-Progress Could Lead to
Return of Samples", Applied Space
Resources, Inc. News Release, reprinted in Florida Today Space
Online, 7 Mar 1998.
Items not flown in space
In some sense this is not a space market, because it doesn't really
require spaceflight (consider Star Trek for example), but the items
mentioned here do have a tie-in to real spaceflight and thus at least
in principle could fund it.
Here is a partial list of products. I don't have any numbers on
revenues or profitability, however.
- In Jun 1996 the web site of the United Space Alliance,
the space shuttle prime contractor, displayed some space shuttle
playing cards. As of Jul 1997 they list these and also a screen saver
and CD-ROM. Apparently the plan is to
distribute (sell?) them through a nonprofit I'd never heard of, Planet
10. It is not clear to me whether this is intended to make money or
intended to buy public support for their NASA contracts, or a little
- The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center has a variety of products
for sale with tie-ins to NASA's human space program.
- One product which seems to have made it out of the space giftshop
ghetto and into more widespread circulation is Mattel's Mars
Pathfinder toy. This was developed under license to the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and sold in 1997 in toy stores. See "Mars Rover Sojourner Hot Wheels Toy", JPL Technology Transfer
web site, Jul 1997. I don't know how well this item has done, or
other mass market items have done, in comparison with the items not in
mass circulation (in terms of profits). One interesting aspect of
this deal is that apparently Mattel did pay licensing fees to JPL;
this kind of product licensing earns big bucks for the National
Football League and others. Apparently the toy is
selling, according to "Pathfinder's
mission to Mars spurs astronomical sales for Mattel, others", Florida
Today Space Online, 9 Jul 1997, although if you read the article
closely it doesn't, by itself, contain evidence of high sales. 5000
toys at $5 each is only $25,000 in gross revenues, and if sales are
concentrated in time (around the landing) and space (space gift stores),
then this may not be an indication of high sales in general.
- Shuttle Products International sells $1 million per year of T
shirts and other such items, according to "From Mars bars to Hot Wheels, Pathfinder boosts sales", Florida
Today Space Online, 10 Jul 1997 and "Space mania boosts market", Florida Today Space Online,
13 Aug 1997.
- Plan for selling space trading cards at "Entrepreneur sees astronomical profits in the cards", Florida
Today Space Online, 22 Sep 1997. Don't know what became of this
- "Post-Christmas Stocking Stuffer", SpaceViews, Jan 1998. Mars CD-ROM. No sales data.
- LunaCorp's CD-ROMs (any articles to cite?).
- Brief mention of Buzz Aldrin G.I.Joe at "Other
News", SpaceViews, 15 Apr 1999. No sales data.
This page is part of Jim
Kingdon's space markets page.