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Japanese Satellites Firing Fake Meteors Endangering SpaceX Satellites

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A Japanese company called Astro Live Experiences (ALE) now creates million-dollar meteor showers in one of the most technologically advanced entertainment experiences the world has ever seen, but some aerospace and astronomy experts have concerns that the displays will damage other satellites used for more scientific purposes.

Buzzfeed explains that ALE is the world’s first entertainment company that uses aerospace technology to create out-of-this-world experiences for their wealthy clients.

Lena Okajima, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, explains that an ALE satellite will “circle the globe and kick out 15 to 20 small metallic pebbles on command. Those seeds, less than half an inch wide, will blaze overhead for a few bright seconds over the city of the buyer’s choice.” The satellites can store up to 400 fake metallic pebbles, or fake meteors, for 27 months before burning up completely in the atmosphere.

The idea was originally conceived as an opening act for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has grown ever since.

One firework is expected to cost around $40,000; a complete show could cost millions, depending on the display’s extravagance.

But despite the glamor of this alluring  idea, some experts have concerns about the dangers of such a unique display of man-made meteoroids, “given the risk that its projectiles might collide with any of the thousands of satellites that space firms such as SpaceX will be adding to the same orbit.”

I salute them for cleverness and for their technical expertise, but from an orbital debris standpoint, it’s not a great idea,” University of Michigan astronomer Patrick Seitzer told reporters at Buzzfeed, but he expressed concern that “space will be getting crowded in low-earth orbit in the next 10 years.”

In the next decade, Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to put 7,500 new broadband internet satellites in orbits about 210 miles high, just below ALE’s satellites,” Buzzfeed explains. Those internet satellites could be in danger of colliding with ALE’s meteor-producing entertainment satellites. 

Josh Rodenbaugh, a member of ALE’s satellite operations team, said the company would be more than willing to discuss concerns with those who have objections to their displays: “We are more than happy to approach anyone and talk over any concerns they might have about anything they have in orbit. We want to make this work for everyone.”