What space needs, apparently, is more stuff.
The final frontier is, apparently, the new site of brand marketing — or at least, that's the message sent by a couple of new and very "huh!"-worthy partnerships between space tourism companies and consumer brands.
Axiom Space — you know, the first private company to send a private crew of rich folks to the International Space Station — has, per a press release, sent a custom, dripped-out Build-a-Bear Workshop teddy up into orbit as a "zero-gravity indicator."
The bear, named "GiGi," has become the "fifth crew member" of Ax-2, Axiom's second private space tourism mission that over the weekend launched four lucky fliers to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
"GiGi going to space continues the tradition of having a zero-gravity indicator inside the spacecraft to provide a visual indicator when the spacecraft has reached the weightlessness of microgravity," reads the release.
Along with being a branded reminder to "children around the world to learn about space and consider careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM)," GiGi the bear is also, the release notes, wearing a miniature version of Axiom's new sci-fi-inspired spacesuit that NASA is renting from the company for a pretty penny.
While the well-dressed teddy is no doubt the star of Axiom's latest brand partnerships, it's not the only one on this latest mission.
In a video released last week, ex-NASA astronaut and current Axiom mission leader Peggy Whitson announced that she and her three civilian crew members on Ax-2 would be using special Fisher brand space pens that were invented specifically for microgravity environments.
"I am excited about the idea that we're continuing the legacy of taking Fisher pens to space," Whitson, who holds records for the most days on the space station for any American and any woman at a whopping 665 days, said in the company's promo video. "It's really been a very long history [for] these space pens. I'm looking forward to using them again."
Fisher pens have, of course, been a staple of space travel for more than half a century, but the Axiom brand partnership signals that the consumer space tourism company is taking advertising to a place far, far away — the ISS.
More on space tourism: Tourism Company Offering Zero-G Concerts