The world’s first wooden satellite has been designed and is ready to launch into the Earth’s orbit. A nano-satellite made out of plywood is equipped with sensors and technology to become the first-ever wooden satellite to enter space. This project aims to test how well a wood can survive the conditions in space and whether it can be used as a material for space applications.
The European Space Agency has announced the plan to launch the first wooden satellite by November 2021. The satellite is named ‘WISA Woodsat’ and is projected to launch a rocket in New Zealand to space. It will orbit at an altitude of 500-600 km in a sun-synchronous orbit. This is because it is not known to survive at a higher altitude.
The Wooden Satellite
Designed and manufactured in Finland by Arctic Astronautics, the wooden satellite is a cube-shaped nano-satellite with dimensions 4x4x4 inches and a weight of 1kg. Wisa Woodsat is constructed using standardised boxes with surface panels made out of the same plywood used in furniture-making.
Before using, the wood is dried out and treated to improve its chances of survival in space as the original wood contains a lot of humidity. Its panels are treated with a thin layer of aluminium oxide that will prevent any release of gas and will also protect the surface from corrosion.
The only non-wooden parts of the wooden satellite are aluminium rails used for releasing it into space. Two cameras are installed on the satellite, one of which is attached to a selfie stick to keep track of how the material behaves and changes in the space environment.
The European Space Agency provides a set of sensors to monitor the performance of the wood satellite and help with pre-flight testing. The mission behind launching WISA Woodsat is to find out how wood performs in the heat, cold, vacuum, and radiation of space. Scientists will be able to study the behaviour, durability, and applicability of wood in space structures through this project.
The wooden satellite will be launched from New Zealand on a rocket named Electron developed by an American manufacturer, Rocket Lab. According to the pre-flight tests, WISA Woodsat should survive in an orbit around 500 km. However, scientists expect the wood to get dark from exposure to UV radiation. The success of the project will give a low-cost, environment-friendly device that should find future space applications.
The impending launch of a wooden satellite represents a significant new feat in space exploration, which is likely to have an impact on research facilities and space agencies across the world.
Results and data generated by this launch will be closely monitored to ascertain the place of wood in future satellites and space exploration missions.
FAQs About Wooden Satellite
- Which country has launched the first Wooden Satellite?
New Zealand has announced plans to launch a nanosatellite named WISA Woodsat which is the world’s first Wood Satellite to be ever launched to space.
- Which other countries will launch Wooden Satellite?
Japan is working on a plan to launch the world’s first satellite partially made of wood in 2023. The project is aimed at harnessing the environment-friendliness of wood and the low cost of production.
- Who made the Wooden Satellite?
The first-ever wooden satellite is made by Arctic Astronauts, a company based in Finland that crafts CubeSat kits for students. The project also involves UPM Plywood and a design company Huld.