Imagine a wooden satellite orbiting the Earth! Japan has reportedly begun work to launch the world’s first satellite made of wood by 2023.
Japanese logging company Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University will be jointly doing the basic research for the eco-friendly satellite project, aimed at reducing space junk.
Outer space is filled with more than 23,000 known man-made fragments – from dead satellites to errant nuts and bolts – zipping around the planet, posing a threat to working satellites. Currently, there are around 2,500 active satellites orbiting the Earth.
The Japanese company’s move assumes significance as it comes at a time when the nations are trying to build eco-friendly satellites to reduce space junk.
Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University will conduct research on tree growth and how to use wooden materials in space environments. Besides, they aim to promote technology for using wood in extreme environments on Earth.
A report in Nikkei Asia states that since electromagnetic waves can penetrate through the wood, simpler structures can be made for devices such as antennas and attitude control mechanisms that can be placed inside the wooden satellite.
The wood will burn up completely without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when the wooden satellite will be plunging back to Earth after it de-orbits, the report claims. Debris anyway burns when it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
The partners are certain that their wooden satellite would have certain advantages over a conventional one. They claim the wooden structure could be used to house components used for data transmission or attitude control.
There are no further details on how the technology is going to work but Sumitomo Forestry aims to provide global markets with sustainable wood resources. The company is also exploring possibilities for wooden buildings as a roadmap for future technology, the development of new building methods, and other eco-friendly technologies.