When Rocket Lab revealed in January that it sent a disco-ball satellite called “the Humanity Star” into orbit, as one of the payloads aboard its low-cost Electron rocket, the company said it could stay up shining in the night sky for nine months or so.
But now Satview’s projection of the roughly 3-foot-wide, 20-pound satellite’s orbital decay indicates it will descend to a fiery doom on March 22.
Humanity Star is a geodesic sphere made of carbon fiber and covered with 65 reflective panels, designed specifically to twinkle in dark skies as all those panels reflect sunlight before dawn and after dusk.
Sighting conditions depend on where the satellite is during the optimal times for viewing. During the day, of course, the satellite’s reflections are lost in the sun’s glare. During the depths of night, the satellite isn’t at the right angle to reflect sunlight.
It took until early March for Humanity Star to get into the optimal orbital phase for West Coast sightings. Between now and March 27, there should be at least one sighting opportunity every day over Seattle. Another string of sightings is due to begin on May 7.
In addition to launching three Earth-watching satellites, Rocket Lab has sent up a satellite you can watch from Earth: a bright and shiny object christened Humanity Star.
Rocket Lab says Humanity Star, a geodesic sphere made of carbon fiber with 65 reflective panels, could well rank as the brightest satellite in the night sky.
“No matter where you are in the world, or what is happening in your life, everyone will be able to see the Humanity Star in the night sky,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said today in a news release. “My hope is that all those looking up at it will look past it to the vast expanse of the universe and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important for humanity.”
The satellite was launched on Jan. 20 from Rocket Lab’s launch complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, atop a low-cost Electron rocket.