The ALE-2 “shooting star” satellite to launch on Rocket Lab’s Electron

Image courtesy of ALE.

Tokyo-based NewSpace company ALE will be launching its second satellite, ALE-2, with Rocket Lab’s Electron on 25 November. ALE-2 will attempt to realize the company’s aim of producing man-made shooting stars, with the hope of commercialization within the year 2020.

ALE-2 will be lofted to an altitude of 400km, with a liftoff mass of 75kg and measuring 60x60x80 cm. It will be propelled using thrusters, which will function as an orbit-controlling device by discharging gas from its nozzles. After launch, ALE will conduct operational tests over several months to confirm the health of all components and systems of ALE-2, and afterwards demonstrate the world’s first man-made shooting star.

Said CEO Lena Okajima, “I’m excited for the upcoming launch of our 2nd satellite ALE-2.  I’m delighted to have an earlier launch date than I expected. With this launch, we are a step closer to realize the man-made shooting star. Please look forward to the world’s first demonstration we are aiming in 2020, which will be a major milestone for ALE. I’m pleased to have Rocket Lab for a partner, they have 100% mission success heritage for their customers.”

The company’s first satellite, ALE-1, was launched on January 18 this year, on JAXA’s small Epsilon rocket. Together with ALE-2, the two satellites will be able to produce shooting stars in 5 colours, as part of its Sky Canvas Project; the company’s goal is to develop next-generation entertainment for the general public, while at the same time encouraging greater interest in science and technology. ALE-1 and ALE-2 represent the first steps towards such entertainment, along with their secondary objectives of conducting research on the upper atmosphere and testing new space technologies and components. Earlier this year, ALE raised US$11m in its Series A round, led by Horizon Ventures.

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