A Japanese company called Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University have collaborated to create the first satellite in the world to be made with wood.
Sumitomo Forestry has initiated this project by researching and analyzing tree growth and the use of wood materials in space. The collaboration will soon begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth. They plan to launch such a satellite into space by 2023.
Why wooden satellites?
As more and more satellites are being launched for various purposes such as communication, weather forecasting, and navigation, the problem of space debris is aggravating. However, wooden satellites will burn without releasing detrimental and harmful substances in the atmosphere. Subsequently, they will not release debris when they de-orbit and plunge back into the Earth.
Additionally, wood does not obstruct electromagnetic waves or the Earth’s magnetic field, aiding in creating simpler satellite structures by placing devices such as antennas and attitude control mechanisms into the wooden box.
“We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University and Japanese astronaut who visited the International Space Station in 2008, told the BBC.
“Eventually it will affect the environment of the Earth.”
“The next stage will be developing the engineering model of the satellite, then we will manufacture the flight model,” Professor Doi added.