Today’s Tidbits: January 24, 2018 (Updated)

Today’s Tidbits: January 24, 2018 (Updated)

Here are our tidbits for January 24, 2018:  Rocket Lab reveals secret satellite “Humanity Star”; Mike Griffin’s nomination approved by SASC.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Rocket Lab Reveals Secret Satellite — Humanity Star (Updated March 22, 2018)

When Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron rocket from New Zealand this past weekend, it announced that it placed three cubesats into orbit:  one Dove for Planet, and two Lemur 2s for Spire.

Today it revealed there was a fourth satellite, its own “Humanity Star.” Created by Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, it is a carbon-fiber geodesic sphere about 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter with 65 highly reflective panels. The satellite spins rapidly, “creating a bright, flashing effect that can be seen in the night sky.”

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck with his Humanity Sphere. Credit: Rocket Lab.

Beck explained that his goal is for people around the world to gaze upward to see the satellite and “the vast expanse of the universe and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important for humanity.”

A website [] has been created where anyone may learn when exactly to look up to see it from wherever they are on Earth.  Rocket Lab said that the best viewing in the United States will begin in March 2018 and continue through the satellite’s orbital lifetime, which is approximately 9 months.

[UPDATE, March 22, 2018:  Humanity Star reentered today, much earlier than planned.]

Mike Griffin Approved by SASC

Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Photo Credit: NASA/Renee Bouchard

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) announced today that it approved all four nominees who appeared at the January 18, 2018 confirmation hearing.  That includes Mike Griffin’s nomination to be Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD/R&E).

As we’ve been reporting, Griffin, a former NASA Administrator, is slated to fill a slot that was created by Congress in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the hope of streamlining DOD’s acquisition process.  The position will not exist until February 1, 2018.  At that time, the responsibilities of the current Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD/ATL) will be split between USD/R&E and a new position of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainability (USD/A&S).  Ellen Lord, now the USD/ATL, is expected to become the USD/A&S.

The next stop for Griffin’s nomination is the floor of the Senate.  No timetable has been announced for when the Senate will vote on his confirmation. Presumably the goal is to confirm him before February 1.


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