It was literally an out-of-this-world idea that seemed unfeasible when it struck her nearly two decades ago: Made-to-order shooting stars. But Lena Okajima's audacious project to reproduce nature's fireworks for mass entertainment is getting ready for takeoff.

"The concept dawned on me when I watched the Leonid meteor shower in 2001," says the CEO of Tokyo-based startup ALE Co., who at the time was an undergraduate student of astronomy at the University of Tokyo.

"I knew back then that if I were to launch my own venture, it will be one that produces shooting stars on demand," she says.