In what’s set to become a world’s first, a Japanese company is preparing to deploy a satellite whose mission isn’t to daisy-chain radio signals or beam back weather images from high in the exosphere. Instead, it’ll let loose an array of centimeter-sized pellets — tiny man-made meteors whose only purpose is to burn brightly as they descend through the atmosphere and create beauty for watchers below.
Tokyo-based Astro Live Experiences, or ALE, a tech company that aspires to entertain, is launching a satellite toward its first test on Jan. 17, with the hope of successfully creating space fireworks that can outshine the stars in the night sky. Taken into orbit aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Epsilon Rocket #4, the satellite is scheduled to release its payload “at the vicinity of Hiroshima and Seto inland sea,” according to the company’s website, in the spring of next year.
While a lot of variables can’t be accounted for until the test has actually been conducted, the goal is to successfully cluster the pellets so that their spread into multi-colored meteors remains tight enough to be seen and enjoyed by a single observer on the ground. ALE hopes to accomplish that via “a custom-built high-pressure helium precision release system which guarantees the particle ejection at required speed and time.”
What are the pellets made of? The company is only saying the mini-meteors are made of “confidential non-toxic materials,” and that the project has been coordinated closely with JAXA to assure a malfunction won’t harm people, the environment, or other satellites.
“Because no one else has attempted this challenge before, there has been no safety guidelines implemented for a mission of this type,” the company explains. “To tackle this challenge, ALE and JAXA held multiple safety discussions and workshops to determine an adequate safety standard for the mission which would minimize potential effects on other earth-orbiting satellites,” assuring that “[c]ompared to the safety features of other microsatellites, the feature implemented in ALE’s satellite is significantly enhanced.”
If everything goes as planned, ALE believes it has an idea on its hands that can carry fireworks displays to a whole new level — literally. Touting itself as “the world’s first company in the space entertainment sector,” ALE aims to base its entire business on providing meteoric entertainment on demand.
Check out a CGI clip of how ALE hopes its meteor shower turns out, via the company’s project page...
What do you think? Should we be getting straight to work on schematics for a meteor-proof umbrella?