Saturday, September 29, 2018

[xezvztre] Humanity Star criticism as publicity stunt

Assuming the launch was successful (which it was), the Humanity Star was a publicity stunt in which any publicity is good publicity: it puts the name of the rocket launch company out there and establishes that they are competent.  Even negative publicity is effective toward this goal.  Negative publicity might be especially effective because controversy spreads virally.

And negative publicity they got: astronomers complaining of light pollution and the satellite potentially passing in front of Hubble's field of view, ruining science.  Class warfare between the rich putting self-aggrandizing baubles in space while the poor starve.

It seems the plan worked perfectly.  Too perfectly?  Was this negative publicity also engineered?  It seems like the kind of thing they could have hired a PR firm to astroturf.

The complaint that the satellite might pass in the field of view of a powerful telescope seems especially disingenuous.  They had chosen an low-earth orbit which quickly decays and burns up the satellite in the atmosphere, so the macro time frame for something bad to happen is very small.  The micro time frame is also small: it has to be daytime in orbit but night time on the ground (unless you are Hubble).  Finally, powerful telescopes have extremely narrow fields of view.  The chances of a particular satellite passing in front are literally astronomically low.

On the other hand, suspecting astroturfing is suspecting malice which could be explained by incompetence.

No comments :