New Zealand-based company “Rocket Lab” fired a special satellite into orbit this January, angering astronomers around the world. Rocket Lab, like Tesla, focuses on private spaceflight and fired what they call an art installation alongside three commercial satellites into orbit. Now, astronomers and other experts are condemning the launch, citing an already crowded atmosphere.
The satellite art itself is made of carbon fiber and its 65 faces are each highly reflective, a glimmer that Rocket Lab plans to be visible from space. The “graffitti,” as astronomers refer to it, will remain in orbit for around 9 months before disintegrating on reentry. Until then, people on the ground can see the Humanity Star as it passes over, particularly during dawn and dusk. Rocket Lab hopes the sight will have an aweing effect on observers, connecting everyone.
Many professionals on the ground aren’t buying it. Astronomers point out the already crowded atmosphere and the rate of launches is only growing. Others worry that a collision caused by space debris could lead to a domino effect, destroying thousands in one chain reaction. For those without satellites in the game, they point out the additional disruption an intentionally bright and shiny object will cause for powerful telescopes.
Rocket Lab has so far stood by their launch and their website notes plans for a future Humanity Star when the current iteration burns out.