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25 Feb 2018 2:44
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  •   Home > News > Technology

    Rocket Lab puts disco ball into orbit

    NZ's Rocket Lab has revealed Sunday's orbital rocket launch also delivered a disco ball with a message for humanity.

    Rocket Lab's gift to humanity of a large disco ball, which it launched into orbit in the hope it will be visible to the naked eye anywhere in the world, has not been warmly welcomed by all.

    Dubbed the "Humanity Star", it is an 8kg carbon fibre geodesic sphere with 65 reflective panels, which will reflect sunlight as it spins.

    It should be one of the brightest objects in the night sky before it falls back to Earth after about nine months and is burned up on re-entry, according to chief executive Peter Beck.

    "It was born of the desire to encourage people to consider their place in the universe and reflect on what's important in their own lives and the lives of humanity as a species," he says on the ball's website, where it can also be tracked.

    But to astronomer Ian Griffin, it was more like a Donald Trump-style example of "corporate self-puffery" as he lamented New Zealand using its first act as a space-faring nation to pollute the night sky for all mankind.

    "According to Trump era entrepreneurs, flashing disco balls in space are the way to promote philosophical reflection," Mr Griffin, who is also director of Otago Museum, tweeted from his private account.

    "Thanks to Rocketlab's act of environmental vandalism NZ is [the] first country to deliberately 'tag' the cosmos."

    The Humanity Star website went live on Thursday.

    Rocket Lab, a New Zealand-based American company, successfully reached orbit for the first time with its Electron rocket on Sunday.

    The launch also carried small satellites into the Earth's orbit for US companies Planet Labs and Spire Global.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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