Rocket Lab has revealed the secret object on board its Electron test rocket was a geodesic sphere dubbed the Humanity Star, and the company says everyone on Earth will have the opportunity to see it.
Electron launched from the Mahia Peninsula on Sunday afternoon, carrying a payload of commercial satellites into low Earth orbit.
But the company teased that there was another object taken to space, possibly belonging to Rocket Lab themselves.
This morning Rocket Lab says it deployed "a star for humanity" into orbit.
The Humanity Star, a satellite, is intended to serve as a focal point for humanity, as every person on Earth will have the opportunity to see and experience it, the company says in a statement.
The satellite will appear as a bright, glinting star shooting across the night sky.
"My hope is that all those looking up at it will look past it to the vast expanse of the universe and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important for humanity," said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, who created the Humanity Star project.
"The Humanity Star is a way of looking beyond our immediate situation, whatever that may be, and understanding we are all in this together as one species, collectively responsible for innovating and solving the challenges facing us all.
"We must come together as a species to solve the really big issues like climate change and resource shortages," Mr Beck said.
The satellite is currently orbiting the Earth after being launched from New Zealand and successfully deploying to orbit on Sunday. It is the first New Zealand-designed and built satellite to orbit the Earth.
The Humanity Star is a geodesic sphere made from carbon fibre with 65 highly reflective panels.
The sphere spins rapidly, reflecting the sun’s light back to Earth, creating a bright, flashing effect that can be seen in the night sky.
Orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes and visible to the naked eye from anywhere on the globe, the Humanity Star is designed to be a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe.
The Humanity Star will orbit the Earth for approximately nine months before its orbit starts to decay and the satellite is pulled back into Earth’s gravity, burning the satellite on re-entry.
Rocket Lab says the Humanity Star will be at it's most visible over New Zealand after February.
The Humanity Star's location, including when it will be visible from different regions of the planet, can be tracked in real-time at The Humanity Star website.