Read More: The Guardian
Astronomers across the world have criticised a privately owned, New Zealand-based space company after it secretively put a satellite likened to a giant disco ball into orbit. Last week the space exploration startup Rocket Lab launched a rocket from a remote sheep and cattle farm on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. The moment prompted jubilation and pride across New Zealand, with Rocket Lab’s founder and chief executive Peter Beck labelling it an “almost unprecedented” step in commercial space exploration. But it has since emerged that as well as conventional satellites, the rocket was also carrying the “Humanity Star”, a three-foot-wide geodesic sphere made from carbon fibre and fitted with 65 highly reflective panels. The sphere, the company has claimed, will reflect the sun’s rays back to Earth creating a flashing light visible from anywhere on the globe. It is expected to become the brightest object in the night sky for nine months until it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. Rocket Lab said the Humanity Star was supposed to be a “reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe”, and the company’s chief executive and founder, Peter Beck, said the sphere would “create a shared experience for everyone on the planet”.