Rocket Lab's Humanity Star has returned to Earth quicker than expected and is believed to have vaporised early this morning.
The 8kg carbon fibre sphere resembling a disco ball was sent into space on January 21 on Rocket Lab's Electron rocket.
On Wednesday the Herald reported that the star, hoped to be one of the brightest objects in the sky for nine months, was tracking back to earth just two months after its launch.
Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck told Newstalk ZB today he understood the star would have re-entered the Earth's orbit early this morning and disintegrated.
"It's coming a little bit quicker, but that's not unexpected given it's a large area and a very very light mass," Beck said.
"It was always intended to be a short-term project and the message was very, very clear and had the most amount of energy and power right at the beginning. If it had stayed up another few months would it have continued really to send the message? Probably not."
Beck previously described the star as a symbol of discussion about the challenges humans faced.
"It's all about sparking conversation," he said in January.
The launch divided experts though, with critics saying the star polluted the sky and was a cheesy stunt.
But on Friday Beck said Rocket Lab had received thousands of positive messages from families, and described the project as "very successful".
"It raised question and argument about private companies sending things into orbit
[and] important questions about responsible use of space. It created a whole new discussion about commercialisation of space [and] I think, a bit more awareness about space as a domain that we need to look after as well as our planet."
There were no plans to send another one up. A second launch would dull the message, he said.
"It's one of those things where you put a stake in the ground and you make a statement.
"Really, it was hard to determine how long it was going to stay there anyway, and nine months was absolutely the maximum. So the fact that it came down a bit quicker, I'm not really disappointed at all. I thought it had a really clear message and a finite one."