In the spring of ’18 or roughly 7 months hence, Trevor Paglen‘s Orbital Reflector, a 100 foot-long satellite that will have absolutely no purpose other than to inspire people to look up and watch as it passes overhead, will be launched into orbit. Well, not precisely — a condensed package will be launched, and then it will unfold and inflate into its full diamond-like shape at a height of 350 miles. Orbital Reflector will last in orbit for roughly two months, and then will gradually descend and burn up in the atmosphere.
Be honest — when was the last time you laid outside on your back after 10 pm and just watched the night sky for more than a minute or two? I used to do this from time to time in my druggy days. The cosmic altogether would just sink into your system after a while. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t done this since I stayed in Independence, a little town adjacent to the Sierra Nevada mountains where the air is unpolluted for the most part and the night vistas are always sharp and clear. When was the last time U.S. citizens did this en masse? After Sputnik was launched in 1957? I’ll definitely be watching for Orbital Reflector several times during its 60-day lifespan.