I can't over-state my enthusiasm for our country's now up-and-running Kiwi space port, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

For me, this is part of an almost fanatical interest in space exploration, forged as a youngster in 1969, when watching foggy video of Apollo 11 land on the moon.

To say that I admired (and still admire) this achievement is a colossal understatement, you can see the dopey look of satisfaction in a pic I have of me beside an Apollo 11 replica at Kennedy Space Centre.

Not to be too florid — but if I was a pagan, I'd probably erect idols to the Apollo 11 astronauts — I mean Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins — and see that they never run short of incense, plus little offerings of food, drink, money etc etc.


As for Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck, never mind "New Zealander of the Year" — as a space junkie I consider this young chap a contender for Kiwi of the 21st century.

Yep, thanks to Peter this country is just the 11th country in the world with an active space port.

To me this "techie triumph", dwarfs the buzz generated by our forthcoming royal baby (the Ardern-Gayford one); by the wonderful Black Caps victories; by this great summer and so on . . .

But, there really is a huge BUT!

News Rocket Lab has launched into orbit a kind of disco ball which could become one of the brightest objects in the night sky is mortifying.

Taking nothing away from Rocket Lab's aim to unite us all by looking up to their "Humanity Star". What an appalling precedent!

Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck with the Humanity Star, a 65-panel, highly reflective carbon fibre sphere that will be viewable with the naked eye from the Earth's surface.
Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck with the Humanity Star, a 65-panel, highly reflective carbon fibre sphere that will be viewable with the naked eye from the Earth's surface.

I imagine since this was announced the planning has already begun for an "Amazon Star", a "Coco-Cola Star" one for "Walmart".

Is a "Trump Star", or perhaps one dedicated to L. Ron Hubbard just around the corner?


Don't get me wrong — I love that there are faint little points of light tracking across the night sky every night.

To me as a parent there's nothing more fun than lying in the grass looking up at the night sky with the kids (in some very dark spot), there to name the constellations and count the satellites.

But the latter are invariably just subtle little barely discernible "pin-pricks" which track rapidly across the sky; they are not "flaming tea trays", designed to dominate the view.

At present the satellites we see are incidental to the big picture — not its focal point.

To me the starry firmament is something to be marvelled at, the way King David did in the Eighth Psalm.

And I say it must not become a billboard for marketing.

According to Wiki in 1993 a "Space Billboard" envisioned by the American company Space Marketing Inc proposed a 1 square kilometre illuminated billboard that would be launched into a low orbit, to be visible from Earth. The advertisement would be roughly the same apparent size and brightness as the moon and was to be made from sheets of mylar. It was estimated that it would be impacted by space debris around 10,000 times.

This and the inability to attract adequate funding prevented the project from progressing. That same year, faced with the Space Billboard project, US Congressman Ed Markey introduced a bill that banned all US advertising in space. This bill was amended to only cover obtrusive advertising, thus allowing sponsorship deals where the logo is placed on the rocket or an astronaut's clothing.

Since May 2005 the Federal Aviation Administration has been in charge of enforcing this law.

Okay, Rocket Lab's Humanity Star doesn't seem to run foul of these rules — but to me it goes against their spirit.

I don't want to look up at a bright man-made glob of light in the night sky, let alone 100 of them.

And I hope there's a change of heart at Rocket Lab — and that next they decide to aim something large and highly explosive at their crass and unwanted disco ball.