NOMINEE: Lena Okajima

INNOVATOR: Chiaki Mukai
Lena Okajima Courtesy of Lena Okajima

Most people will never have the opportunity to see a meteor shower in their lifetime, but Lena Okajima wants to change that. In 2011—a decade after watching the annual Leonid meteor shower as an astronomy student—she founded Astro Live Experiences. The company is developing a way to make artificial shooting stars by deploying small particles out into the atmosphere to create the world's first artificial meteor shower above Hiroshima in 2019. Japan Airlines has even invested in Okajima's project with the hopes of running special flights to the view the spectacle that is likely to put any Fourth of July fireworks display to shame.

While Okajima's vision of space for the masses may be a little more down to earth than Elon Musk's, it's no less ambitious and far more realistic. “The commercialization of space is not only about transportation or communication,” says Mukai. “It's also entertainment. So many people will be able to enjoy space then.”

INNOVATOR: Chiaki Mukai

Physician-turned-astronaut Chiaki Mukai was the first Japanese woman in space. She took part in a Columbia mission in 1994—a crew that was otherwise just men. She was also the only woman aboard Discovery on her second mission in 1998.

Innovator_Nominator_Chiaki Mukai_CM5WX2
Stock Photo - October 11, 2012, Tokyo, Japan - Japan's first female astronaut Chiaki Mukai participates in a panel discussion during a symposium in Tokyo on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency sponsored the meeting in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first space flight by astronaut Mamoru Mori in September 1992. Photo Illustration by Gluekit; Photo by AFLO

About Women of the Future

Newsweek asked 20 prominent women to each nominate an up-and-comer they believe will be a trailblazer for the next generation. The only requirement was that each nominee inspire the leader, and the world. As they say, it takes one to know one.

Check the other nominees in our special Women of the Future.