Tokyo-based firm Astro Live Experiences (ALE) has sent micro-satellites into space to deliver the world's first artificial meteor shower.
On Friday, a Japanese Epsilon-4 rocket carrying seven micro-satellites lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Centre and released the satellites 500 kilometres above the surface of Earth.
According to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, all seven satellites have been successfully put into orbit. The satellites will now orbit the Earth and descend to about 400 kilometres over the next one year.
"I was too moved for words," said Lena Okajima, president of ALE. "I feel like now the hard work is ahead."
ALE says each satellite will provide on-demand shooting stars service to paying customers. The first celestial show is scheduled to be performed over Hiroshima in early 2020.
Each satellite - about the size of a big backpack - carries 400 metallic pellets, less than an inch in diameter. To start the celestial show, the satellite will release pellets at a specific location and time. The pellets will glow brightly as they plunge through the Earth's atmosphere, creating an artificial meteor shower.
Each pellet - whose chemical formula has been kept secret by the firm - will glow for several seconds before it gets burned up in the atmosphere. According to the company, each event will involve about 20 shooting stars, which means 400 pellets should be enough to deliver 20 or 30 events.
ALE will send a second lot of satellites into space in mid-2019. The firm plans to offer its shooting stars on-demand service across the globe and will need to build a stockpile of satellites to be able to deliver the service efficiently.
ALE says the satellites will be programmed to release the pellets at the right location, direction and speed to provide a show for paying viewers on the ground.
Each event will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions, according to ALE. The company has not yet disclosed list prices for an artificial meteor shower.
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