The world’s first wooden satellite is set to launch later this year. Testing in space will calculate if wood proves good enough to develop future space technologies.
Satellites have been long orbiting the earth. The Soviets launched the first one in 1957, and that specific event left Americans shocked to the core. Lots of innovation have been seen in satellites since that time. However, for the first time, a wooden satellite is set to orbit around our planet, with Europe claiming victory this time.
European Space Agency (ESA) would be the first to assess the feasibility of wood and how the material sustains in space. The wooden satellite is made up of birch plywood and will be launched to venture into space by the end of this year. Sensors from ESA are packed in a wooden frame to study the feasibility and the future potential of the material in space.
The Woodsat measures around 10 cm along each side and features a unique attribute that its surface panels will be constructed using plywood. Most of the Woodsat is made from wooden materials, except for aluminum used to build the corner railings and a selfie stick that would venture to space alongside. The camera mounted on the selfie stick would take pictures of the Woodsat to assess how the frame is sustaining in the crucial space environment.
Finnish science journalist Jari Makinen is the person behind the idea of the wooden satellite. He said, “I’ve always enjoyed making model planes, involving a lot of wooden parts. Having worked in the space education field, this got me wondering; why don’t we fly any wooden materials in space? So, I had the idea, first of all, to fly a wooden satellite up to the stratosphere aboard a weather balloon. That happened in 2017, with a wooden version of KitSat. That having gone well, we decided to upgrade it and actually go into orbit.”
Makinen has partnered with Rocket Lab to launch its novel wooden satellite to space, wherein this equation, the rocket lab would provide its Electron booster for the lift-off. European Space Agency would play its part in the mission by providing a sensor suite and onboard cameras to monitor the satellite’s performance in space.
“In the end, Woodsat is simply a beautiful object in terms of traditional Nordic design and simplicity. It should be exciting to see it in orbit,” says Makinen. “Our hope is it helps inspire people to take an increased interest in satellites and the space sector as something that already touches all our lives and is only going to get bigger in future.”