TOKYO – A rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to provide the world's first artificial meteor shower exploded into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said.
A new Tokyo-based company developed a micro satellite for heavenly performances over Hiroshima early next year as a preliminary experiment for what it called "falling star on request" services.
The satellite will release small balls that shine brightly as they glide quickly in the atmosphere, simulating meteor showers.
It sits on a small Epsilon-4 rocket launched from the Uchinoura space center by the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday morning.
The rocket carries a total of seven ultra-small satellites that will show a variety of "innovative" technologies, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto told AFP.
By late afternoon, JAXA confirmed the seven satellites had been successfully launched into orbit.
"I was too touched by the words," Lena Okajima, the company's president behind the artificial meteor shower, told Jiji Press's agency. "I feel like now hard work is ahead."
ALE Co. Company Ltd. plans to provide the world's first show of Hiroshima in the spring of 2020.
The satellite launched on Friday carrying 400 small balls whose chemical formula is a closely guarded secret.
That should be enough for 20-30 events, because one shower will involve up to 20 stars, according to the company.
The ALE satellite, which is released 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth, will gradually drop to 400 kilometers in the coming year because it orbits the Earth.
The company plans to launch a second satellite with a private sector rocket in mid-2019.
ALE said it was targeting "the whole world" with its products and plans to build a stack of falling stars in space that could be sent to the entire world.
When two satellites are in orbit, they can be used separately or together, and will be programmed to release the ball in the right location, speed, and direction to show the viewer on land.
Playing with the ingredients on the ball must mean that it is possible to change the color they glow, offering the possibility of a colorful fleet of shooting stars.
Every star is expected to glow for a few seconds before it completely burns – long before they fall low enough to cause any danger on Earth. – AFP