Sunday, July 21, 2024

LignoSat: world’s first wooden satellite

In a world-first, Japanese researchers have developed a tiny wooden satellite named LignoSat, which is set to launch into space in September. This innovative project aims to reduce space debris by completely burning up upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

LignoSat is a collaborative effort between Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry. Development began in April 2020, and the satellite measures just 10 centimeters on each side. It is crafted from magnolia wood, chosen for its strength and workability after space exposure tests on cherry, birch, and magnolia wood chips. The wood was sourced from Sumitomo Forestry’s company forest.

Traditionally, satellites are made of metal, which creates harmful debris when they burn up in the atmosphere. This debris can pose significant threats to operational satellites and spacecraft. Researchers believe that wooden satellites could provide a more sustainable solution.

LignoSat is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in September. It will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS), where it will undergo tests to assess its strength and ability to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations.

“Data will be sent from the satellite to researchers who can check for signs of strain and whether the satellite can withstand huge changes in temperature,” a Sumitomo Forestry spokeswoman said.

This pioneering project marks a significant step forward in the fight against space debris. If successful, LignoSat could pave the way for a new generation of environmentally friendly satellites.

This news builds on earlier reports from February 2024 about the development of LignoSat, which highlighted the satellite’s potential to combat space pollution and emphasized the use of magnolia wood for its burn-up properties.

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