In times there have been advancements, in space technology that have captured the worlds attention. Now lets imagine a future where satellites are crafted from wood. It may sound truly extraordinary right? Well that future might not be too distant because NASA and Kyoto University have joined forces to embark on a project focused on developing satellites.
This groundbreaking idea was initially introduced by Arctic Astronautics, a startup behind the WISA Woodsat. A CubeSat set to be launched in 2021. With support from space agencies like JAXA and ESA as well as private companies like SpaceX the race to create the first ever wooden satellite is gaining momentum. The aim of this project is to address the mounting issue of space debris by exploring materials that can minimize harm to Earths environment.
As you continue reading you’ll discover details about the research and design efforts being undertaken to assess the durability of wood in space exploration. We will also explore the advantages of using satellites and delve into the exciting collaborations between various space organizations and private companies. Join us on this journey into a future where wooden satellites could spark a revolution, in our explorations.
Manufacturing Process and Materials
Types of Wood Used
Based on the research conducted by a team of scientists at Kyoto University, two primary types of wood are identified for making wooden satellites: Birch and Magnolia. Both woods have their advantages and are considered for different components of the satellite.
While wood plays a role in the structure of satellites other materials are also necessary for functionality. For example sensors will be integrated into the structure and conductive plastic materials that can be 3D-printed will be used for electrical connections. Additionally solar cells are essential for powering the satellite and an amateur radio payload can provide communication capabilities.
Handling Harsh Space Conditions
To ensure durability in space materials such as birch plywood and magnolia plywood panels need to withstand exposure to elements including;
- Cosmic rays: High-energy charged particles coming from outer space
- Sunlight: Ultraviolet rays that cause materials and paints to crack and peel
- Extreme changes in temperature: Fluctuations between severe hot and cold temperatures
- Atomic oxygen: Reactive oxygen atoms found in Earth’s orbit
During the selection of materials and development of surface treatments, like varnishes and lacquers these conditions are taken into account.
Testing and Verification
Before embarking on a mission, to Earths orbit scientists evaluate the performance and durability of materials using testing methods. They recreate the conditions of space in a vacuum chamber on Earth. Sometimes they send the materials up to the edge of space using weather balloons to see how they hold up against the harsh environment. Additionally they may also send a prototype satellite to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing.
To provide coverage in Earths orbit a satellite called LignoSat made from wood will be launched. This satellite is designed with a heat shield that protects it during re entry into Earths atmosphere. Once it re-entery the structure decomposition and burns up reducing space debris and minimizing its impact on our environment.
The development of satellites marks a step towards reducing space debris and light pollution caused by traditional metal materials. Companies like Sumitomo Forestry along with agencies like NASA and JAXA are working together to launch the worlds satellites. This paves the way for innovation, in creating eco structures for space exploration in the future.