Space enthusiasts can soon buy curios, rocket and satellite models and t-shirts and other Indian Space Research Organisation’s memorablia in curio shops across the country with the premier space agency deciding to launch a merchandise programme.

On Thursday, ISRO short-listed nine private firms — three from Karnataka, two from Maharashtra, one each from Gujarat, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Telangana – for making customised ISRO-themed products for creating awareness about the agency and kindling interest in children, students and public in space activities. Among the chosen ones are Hyderabad-based space technology start-up Dhruva Space Private Limited and Bengaluru-based Imagic Creatives Private Limited, which has been involved in building space museums in different parts of the country.

Creating awareness

World over, space agencies, be it NASA or European Space Agency, have been selling such merchandise popularising their activities. For ISRO, it is better late than never.

“It makes me happy to see the immense interest the programme has generated in such a short time. I am certain that the products created from your efforts shall reach nook and corner of the country including the north-east States and Jammu & Kashmir and take the ISRO story among the youth and kids,” ISRO Chairman K Sivan said addressing the first batch of registered ISRO merchandisers through a virtual event.

“We are looking at building educational tools that will enable the common man to use and get inspired by what ISRO has been doing. Even today, when there is an ISRO launch is happening, people across the country get excited about it. We want to streamline it a little so that it reaches out to more number of people,” said Sanjay Nekkanti, Chief Executive Officer of Dhruva Space. “ISRO has left what sort of merchandise that we would make to the discretion of individual companies selected,” Nekkanti said.

MS Dilleepan, Managing Director of Imagic Creative, said apart from selling these souvenir products through curio shops and e-commerce channels, they could be sold through shops that can be set up at these museums.

Sivan said the merchandise programme has not been rolled out with a commercial interest, the intent instead is outreach and creating awareness through common products.