|Mission type||Public awareness|
|Mission duration||Planned: 9 months |
Final: 2 months, 1 day
|Launch mass||≈8 kg (18 lb)|
|Dimensions||≈1 m (3 ft)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||21 January 2018, 01:43UTC|
|Launch site||Rocket Lab LC-1|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||22 March 2018, 13:15UTC|
|Semi-major axis||5,756.8 km (3,577.1 mi)|
|Perigee altitude||283.4 km (176.1 mi)|
|Apogee altitude||474.0 km (294.5 mi)|
|Epoch||12 February 2018, 01:53:56 UTC|
Humanity Star was a passive satellite designed to produce flares visible from Earth. Its shape was a geodesic sphere about 1 metre (3 ft) in diameter, similar to a large disco ball. It was launched into polar orbit on an Electron rocket by Rocket Lab in January 2018 and reentered the atmosphere on 22 March 2018. According to Rocket Lab, it was meant to be "a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe".
It orbited the Earth every 92 minutes in a polar orbit of approximately 290 by 520 km (180 by 320 mi) in altitude. According to Rocket Lab, the satellite's orbit was expected to decay after nine months, eventually burning up completely in Earth's atmosphere. However, the satellite re-entered several months early on 22 March 2018 at about 13:15 UTC.
Because of its highly reflective surface, Rocket Lab claimed Humanity Star could be seen by the naked eye from the surface of the Earth. Its apparent brightness was estimated to be magnitude 7.0 when half illuminated and viewed from a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi), while its maximum brightness was estimated to be magnitude 1.6.
Initial reactions by astronomers were negative, since reflective objects in orbit can interfere with astronomical observations. It has been described as an act of vandalism of the night sky, space graffiti, a "publicity stunt" and "glittery space garbage". Others argue that flares by existing satellites and the ISS are much brighter than Humanity Star.
Alice Gorman suggests that Humanity Star and Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster are statements with very different but related messages: while Humanity Star may be seen as promoting a unifying vision and the Roadster as a reminder of inequality, "each tells the story of [human] attitudes to space at a particular point in time."