Timber satellites: A new frontier?
Continuing with the theme of wood in space, a new research collaboration in Japan is working to develop the first ever satellite made from timber. What’s more, if all goes to plan it could be ready for lift-off as soon as 2023.
As space junk becomes a growing concern with the ever-increasing number of satellites launched into the atmosphere, wood could be the solution.
Timber satellites would have the advantage of burning up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground if and when they fall back to Earth.
"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," said astronaut and Professor at Kyoto University, Takao Doi.
The research collaboration between Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry will initially see different types of wood tested in extreme environments here on Earth. The focus will be on developing wooden materials that are highly resistant to the impacts of temperature changes and sunlight.
Future stages will focus on developing an appropriate engineering model for a wooden satellite, and the manufacture of the flight model.