Disco Ball in Space


Last year I wrote about Orbital Reflector, which is a project by Trevor Paglen aiming to launch a giant, light-reflecting sculpture into earth’s orbit.

A similar project had been launched a week a go by Rocket Lab, in secret. It is a much smaller sculpture though, and is described as a giant disco ball in space. It his about 1 meter in diameter.
I’m honestly not too excited about this one though, since it doesn’t seem to me like a message to all of humanity. If it was to really carry a message like “look up here, you are one species jammed together on this space rock, get your shit together”, I would excpect a far more sophisticated communication of it on the ground to maximise its audience and value. This is what I did (and still do) expect from the Orbital Reflector project, with pre-designed posters for us earthlings to spread and an easy way to figure out when to look up in the sky to see it (or at least roughly where to look). That’s not what you get for secretly launching it and telling people afterwards.
To me this has the feel of a half-assed PR campaign, but that’s just my opinion.

What’s more interesting to this project though in my opinion is the feedback it received from scientists, e.g. as summarised in the Guardian’s article. It is described as “space graffiti” (as if graffiti was the root of all evil) and useless junk that will end up as space debris. Space junk and light pollution are problems we already have now, from scientific space crafts and humanity’s light emissions alone. Launching something without scientific or economic value though seems to upset a lot of people.