During all our childhood we have been believing in the luck attached in spotting a falling star. But luck might not be a factor any more. Lena Okajima, an entrepreneur in Japan, wants to get into the business of delivering tiny artificial meteors sent up in rockets, released from a satellite on command and bright enough to illuminate the night over light-flooded cities.
Okajima’s wish-upon-a-star moment happened 15 years ago in a cow pasture outside Tokyo, when the former researcher went to see the Leonids, meteor showers seen every November as the earth orbits through a trail of debris left by a comet. Happyho also provide best tarot reading services in Noida and Delhi NCR India area.
Ale Co., which Okajima runs with five people out of a small office in Tokyo, could start offering on-demand meteor showers by 2018, using a carry-on-sized satellite packed with as many as 1,000 centimeter-sized pellets. Released remotely from earth and available in different colors, the shooting stars would be seen by as many as 30 million at a time in urban areas—they may even be ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Event organizers, governments and theme-park operators are Ale’s most likely customers, similar to how fireworks shows are already put on. Wealthy individuals may also be potential buyers.
One major hurdle is finding an affordable way to escape earth’s gravity. That’s where Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, comes in. Elon Musk’s company is seeking to make space travel more affordable with reusable rockets. Ale plans to sign a contract with SpaceX in a few months, according to Okajima. The Hawthorne, California-based company declined to comment on its launch schedule or customers’ contracts.
Still, ordering up a shooting star won’t be cheap. A ride to low-earth orbit atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 costs about $62 million, or roughly $2,700 per kilogram; Ale’s satellite will weigh 50 to 60 kilograms. All told, Ale needs 1 billion yen for its first launch.
One technical challenge is creating a reliable, lightweight machine that can shoot meteor pellets in zero gravity. To do that, Okajima turned to Hironori Sahara, who worked with the team that built the Hayabusa space probe’s ion-engine system. Precision is critical, because the tiniest error in speed or angle can send a shooting star off target by hundreds of miles.
Ale’s meteor showers will also have scientific applications, because they’ll take place in the mesosphere, a part of the sky that’s too low for satellites and too high for weather balloons and aircraft. Spectral analysis of on-demand shooting stars could help scientists learn more about this part of earth’s atmosphere, where clouds there may hold key information about climate change.