Japanese company sends satellite into space to deliver artificial meteor shower

A Japanese company plans to stage the world’s first artificial meteor shower after a rocket carrying its technology was blasted into space on Friday.

Astro Live Experiences (ALE), a Tokyo-based start-up which describes itself as a “space entertainment company”, has developed a micro-satellite which can create what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service.

The satellite was attached to an Epsilon-4 rocket launched into space on Friday morning from the Uchinoura Space Centre in southern Kagoshima prefecture by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

After orbiting the earth over the coming year, the satellite will debut its technology to the world with its first artificial meteor shower scheduled to light up skies above Hiroshima city in spring 2020.

Lena Okajima, founder and CEO of ALE, was cautiously optimistic following its launch into space, telling the Telegraph: “First of all, I am relieved about the success of the launch of JAXA’s Epsilon rocket 4 and the separation of our first satellite.

“Our next step over the next few days is to confirm successful communication between the satellite and the ground station. Until that success is confirmed, I would like to keep my guard up to the end and stay concentrated on the mission.”

Following Friday morning’s launch, the satellite – which weighs 68kg and measures 60cm by 80cm – separated from the rocket around 310 miles above earth and will gradually descend to an altitude of 248 miles over the coming year. 

Perfected during seven years of laboratory work, the satellite contains 400 tiny glowing balls made from a secret chemical formula, which can be unleashed to light up skies in as many as 30 space entertainment shows.

The company, which works closely with top university scientists, local governments and corporate sponsors, plans to target “the whole world” with its celestial shows and will launch a second satellite on a private-sector rocket later this year.

Further innovations the company is understood to be exploring include multi-coloured shootings stars, which can be created by altering the ingredients in the balls, according to reports.

Its planned Hiroshima show is expected to be visible to millions of viewers if the skies are clear, with clutches of man-made shooting stars glowing brightly for several seconds before burning up completely.

The ALE technology was one of seven ultra-small satellites carried into space by the JAXA rocket launch, which aimed to demonstrate an array of technology innovations.

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