Rocket Lab's secret launch revealed as 'Humanity Star' resembling giant disco ball

  • 25/01/2018

The secret payload on Rocket Lab's recently launched electron rocket has been revealed.

It's a New Zealand-made geodesic sphere, dubbed the 'Humanity Star', which will orbit the planet for nearly a year.

It resembles a disco ball with 65 reflective panels and is expected to be the brightest thing in the night sky.

Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck told The AM Show it's 500km above our head and travelling 27 times the speed of sound.

"Historically when a country sends their first satellite to orbit it's a mark in history.

"For the New Zealand satellite I wanted to make sure every single person in this planet could experience it without any piece of equipment.

It holds no practical purpose, but Mr Beck hopes it acts as a reminder for people to look past day-to-day issues.

"There's a much deeper message here.

"The reality is, everyone can name the street they live in, what town they live in, what country they live in and hopefully what planet they live on.

"But if you ask the majority of the human race, who are their neighbours, can you name the planets in our solar system - they simply can't.

"Every day we worry about our terrestrial lives, but there are actually much bigger things to think about.

"And the whole point of the Humanity Star is to get people to go outside and look up. And I hope they look past the Humanity Star and see the universe we're actually in."

The three-foot wide sphere will be visible from earth with the naked eye. Its orbit will take it all over Earth, so everyone will have a chance to view it.

Mr Beck says it will be easy to spot.

"There will be one star that's a little bit brighter than everyone else and it will be the only star that's blinking."

It should be bright enough to see even through city lights.

After nine months it will decay and the satellite will be pulled back into Earth's gravity.