Fireworks are so 20th century. Japan is thinking bigger. And higher. The start-up Astro Live Experiences (ALE) has taken it upon itself to provide “space entertainment” for those who want it. And, they started this weekend by launching a satellite into space that will give Earthly viewers human-made meteor showers.
ALE has been working on this project for a decade. Their “man-made to order” meteor showers are meant for pure entertainment, and will consist of “an array of centimeter-sized pellets” that will burn through our atmosphere and light up the night sky for the enjoyment of the terrestrial below. That’s according to syfy.com.
The company’s 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.” They’ll attempt to do that via “a custom-built high-pressure helium precision release system which guarantees the particle ejection at required speed and time.”
Is that safe? Well, nobody knows because this hasn’t been attempted before. ALE describes the contents of the pellets as “confidential non-toxic materials,” which is maybe reassuring? And, apparently the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ALE had extensive safety conversations to ensure “a malfunction won’t harm people, the environment, or other satellites.” That’s… good.
The test satellite successfully went up aboard JAXA’s Epsilon Rocket #4 on January 17th. It is scheduled to release its sparkly pellet payload this coming spring, “at the vicinity of Hiroshima and Seto inland sea,” according to the ALE website.