Rocket Lab Launches Giant Disco Ball Into Space

Rocket Lab Disco Ball
Image source: Rocket Lab/Twitter

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck has launched a giant “disco ball” into outer space on the most recent Electron two-stage rocket launch.

The Giant Disco Ball In Space

The giant disco ball launched into space, more formally known as “Humanity Star,” is supposed to remind us that we’re living “on a rock in a giant Universe” according to Beck, but really seems more of a publicity stunt than anything else.

Gizmodo reports that California-based Rocket Lab launched the disco ball into space from a launch pad in New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, travelling on the second Electron two-stage rocket that the company has recently launched. Humanity Star is not the only item on the payload, with three CubeSats (miniaturized satellites for space research) also making the trek to orbit.

The giant disco ball is around three feet wide, and is a carbon-fiber geodesic sphere fitted with 65 reflective panels. When it reaches its destination, it should spin rapidly and reflect the Sun’s light in such a way that we’ll be able to see it from our planet’s surface at night. Gizmodo reports that it will be brighter than the average star, but not obnoxiously so, and will circle the globe every 90 minutes while traveling at 27 times the speed of sound.

The Humanity Star Mission

CEO Peter Beck is not a fan of the Humanity Star being compared to a disco ball, hoping that the sphere will serve as a “focal point” for us all to focus on larger issues. Beck’s essay on the disco ball located at the Humanity Star website seems to suggest he has high hopes for his pet project.

“Humanity is finite, and we won’t be here forever. Yet in the face of this almost inconceivable insignificance, humanity is capable of great and kind things when we recognize we are one species, responsible for the care of each other, and our planet, together.

The Humanity Star is to remind us of this. No matter where you are in the world, rich or in poverty, in conflict or at peace, everyone will be able to see the bright, blinking Humanity Star orbiting Earth in the night sky. My hope is that everyone looking up at the Humanity Star will look past it to the expanse of the universe, feel a connection to our place in it and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important.”

The hope is that the giant disco ball in the sky will somehow unify humanity are probably a little unrealistic, and Humanity Star will probably end up being nothing more than some free publicity for Beck and Rocket Lab, but it’s still interesting to think that we may have an object up there hurtling around earth that is a good amount brighter than the average star. This disco ball may not accomplish the grand purpose that Peter Beck envisions for the project, but it’s a way in which one man with enough resources can put something in the sky that is potentially viewable by millions of people on Earth – for its lifespan of around 6 months, at least. We’ll just have to hope that light pollution is low enough that we can see it.