Japanese company develops artificial meteor showers on demand

No time to go Hundred on us.

We are going to need all the ITA (which describes a lot of people here), the mathic world (more bOINGers) and friendlies extramuros to sort out the aftermath once the Panjandrums give up [which I realize may be a while].

Anyone know any really good chants?


More space junk, in the last part of the song.


While this is an interesting idea, it’s going to be ridiculously expensive, a birthday party trick for the 0.1% I suppose. Do we really need that?

And on the kinetic impactor weapons, I would prefer those to our current nuclear stockpiles.

1 Like

It just so happens that they are planning something for 2020.

Q. What is the SHOOTING STAR challenge?

A. The SHOOTING STAR challenge is the world’s first man made meteor event that will be hosted in spring of 2020 in Japan around the Hiroshima and Seto inland sea.

Well yeah and the mass of those objects. We would be talking crowbars rather than ball bearings. Its beyond the capability of a micro satellite.

1 Like

The Chinese thought that fireworks were merely pretty. Until it was demonstrated otherwise.

1 Like

There seems to be some confusion in this thread. This is a microsat, which means it weighs at most a few hundred kilos, and it piggybacks on other launches rather than having its own launch vehicle.

It’s expensive to put those things in orbit, but it’s not that expensive - it’s within the reach of university labs for example, and certainly within the reach of a startup catering to high profile events.

We’re talking a small container filled with a few spheres, a little propellant, and several mutually redundant guidance computers. It doesn’t fly around adjusting its orbit to drop balls at any place on Earth’s surface (that would be physically impossible with current tech), they will just launch several of them.

If I understand correctly, the satellites are single-use. They are launched into an orbit that takes them over the right location at the right time. Then they boost themselves into a lower orbit that will rapidly decay. They only release the spheres after that, when they’re already at low enough altitude to fall back to Earth. This process will also de-orbit the satellite itself, which I think is the idea.


I thought it could have something like a BB gun, fed by a tank of CO2. Firing back along the orbit would also help with re-boost, but as you say, probably just a one shot.

1 Like

I saw the Columbia’s 12 mile long space tether¹ reenter the atmosphere. Of the thing I have seen unexpectedly in the sky, it was one of the most amazing. I would love to look up and see this display, once in a while, and never on a good stargazing night.

Darkly I muse, that someday my kids will point up at the sky, and see lots of shooting stars. My spouse and I, as well as most others, will assume it was for a concert or some sort of event. “Make a wish.” One of us will say. One of critters will say, “I’ll make a lot of wishes!” We will put everybody to sleep not knowing that we saw the first major failure of space tourism. I suppose it will have to my kid’s kids, as there is no way this is going to be common place any time soon.

It still reminds me of Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope. Radio old drama below.

From Radio drama, Suspense Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury 1955, July 12th. Download audio archive here.
I heard this as a kid, listening in to a news radio station that used to play old radio plays for one hour a night. I had borrowed my mothers radio, and marked it with tape. She later read me her favorite Bradbury stories, as I had such a hard time reading.

Note¹ L.A. Times Archive; 1996, July 26, possible pay wall.


Interesting. I googled around a bit but I can’t find a photo. Are you aware of any pictures on line?


No! I had no idea what I saw until confided in a processor of mine. I thought I had seen something truly otherworldly and what I saw just didn’t make sense. The fact that there was nothing in the news made it all the stranger. I thought all sorts of things, including that I had some sort brain tumor that made me hallucinate. It turned out I had been one of the few people in the right place looking up at the right time of night. My professor came up with the answer instantly, and also wondered if I ever slept, then giggled, and asked if I could come by during lunch more often.


You could boost down to a lower orbit, release some balls, then boost up to a higher orbit. The problem with that is the tyranny of the rocket equation: you’re not only changing the delta v of the satellite and its payload, but also of all the fuel you’ll need to repeat this on the next pass.

Because of this, the amount of fuel needed increases at an exponential rate as you increase the number of passes. This will very rapidly lead to diminishing returns, especially since the number of spheres the satellites can carry is limited anyway. Perhaps they could do two or three passes per satellite, but my guess is they won’t bother developing the technology needed for that, at least for now.

Do not taunt happy fun ball!

1 Like

Ok, you genuinely seem worried about this. So…

Remember Skylab? That weighed a lot, and took a lot of rocket to get it up there. That amount of mass that high would cause damage if it dropped, but it was also orbiting, so was gradually slowed by the Earth’s atmosphere and ended up as a meteor shower. It would take a lot of rocket to have stopped Skylab in its orbit, so it fell straight through the atmosphere.

Remember Apollo? The huge rocket to go to the moon, and the tiny rockets to get back? The re-entry capsule was deliberately aimed to graze the Earth’s atmosphere, so it could lose the kinetic energy. The same rockets could have sent it straight at the earth, to hit it with almost all the kinetic energy. Not good for the astronauts, but possible.

The artificial meteor shower is a tiny Skylab. If it’s up there, it only takes a small rocket to de-orbit it so it will burn up at a particular time and place. It’s neat physics, but still a dumb idea IMHO.

That Chinese thing on the other side of the moon is at the Apollo tiny rocket starting point. If it puts in a rival bid, then you can start to worry.

1 Like

Well, now I’m worried.

1 Like

Because for some people the simulacra is better than the real thing?

The real thing being… artificial meteors?

1 Like

No, that being the simulacra… the real thing being meteor showers themselves, which we can’t control. I’m saying some people prefer fake spectacles to real ones…


I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding just how much money is squirrelled away by people that have no use for it, productive or otherwise.

There is no reason not to invest in this company if the tech works, particularly if they aren’t facing competition.

Useful? No. But is it your money? Also no.

They have a rare experience for sale to the highest bidder!

Competition like that is the best incentive, I’m not worried, I’m excited about this.