Lena Okajima, ALE leader and chief star shooter.
Credit: ALE

Shooting stars on demand…that’s the business plan of ALE Corporation, Inc. of Tokyo, Japan.

ALE (Astro Live Experiences) is a space entertainment startup that wants to create shooting stars by using microsatellites. Its mission is to contribute to scientific research through entertainment. It was founded in September 2011 by Lena Okajima, a serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Tokyo.

ALE’s plan is that in early 2019, the first-ever eye-catching artificial meteors will create a light show in the sky above Hiroshima and the surrounding Setouchi region.

Sky canvas

Natural shooting stars occur when dust particles of several millimeters in size enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn due to plasma emission.

Microsatellite used to pepper Earth’s atmosphere with artificial meteors.
Credit: ALE

ALE’s artificial shooting star business can turn the nighttime heavens into a “Sky Canvas.”

“We aim to artificially reproduce shooting stars by releasing grains of special material from orbiting artificial satellites into outer space and entering into the atmosphere. The appearance of grain burning in the atmosphere is like a shooting star from the ground, and its radiance can be enjoyed at the same time,” notes the ALE website.

ALE reproduces this artificially by inventing shooting star particles and using specially designed microsatellites.

Credit: ALE

Mass driver

Each of ALE’s mini-spacecraft would be loaded with the shooting star particles. An artificial meteor is ejected by a mass driver installed on a microsatellite. The mass driver injects a “pill” at high velocity that then deorbits into the atmosphere.

Once ejected via the tiny satellite, those particles will travel roughly one-third of the way around the Earth. They then burn upon entering the atmosphere, becoming shooting stars visible from an area some 125 miles (200 kilometers) in diameter on the ground.

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