The world’s first wooden satellite should be in space by the end of 2021
The WISA Woodsat is going to be launched from New Zealand on a rocket Electron that’s been developed by American aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab
Of all the things satellites can be made of, there’s a wooden one headed to space, hopefully soon. A Finnish company called Arctic Astronautics is working on sending the world’s first wooden satellite to space by the end of this year. The satellite, WISA Woodsat, is a nanosatellite that’s shaped like a cube and is amde of birch plywood. It has sensors that have been developed by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The WISA Woodsat is 10cm on each side, length, height, and width. The main idea behind something like this is to see if a material like wood can survive in the vacuum, heat, cold, and radiation in space.
The brains behind WISA Woodsat, Jari Makinen wondered why we do not fly wooden materials into space and that is what lead to the creation of WISA Woodsat. Makinen is the co-founder at Arctic Astronautics and his company makes satellite replicas that are fully functional and orbit-ready. These replicas that Arctic Astronautics makes are usually used for educational, training, and hobby purposes.
The wood used in WISA Woodsat has been vacuum-dried to get rid of the humidity that can cause troubles in space. And the non-wooden parts on the outside of the WISA Woodsat are just a metal selfie stick, corner aluminum rails so as the satellite can be deployed in space.
The WISA Woodsat is going to be launched from New Zealand on a rocket Electron that’s been developed by American aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab. The WISA Woodsat has undergone pre-flight tests and those have indicated that it can su4vice in an orbit as high as 500-600 kilometers, “despite its exposure to atomic oxygen”. However, scientists anticipate that unfiltered ultraviolet sunlight will darken the wood on the satellite.
To monitor how the satellite survives harsh conditions of the lower Earth orbit, ESA has added a suite of sensors to the satellite. “The first item we’re embarking is a pressure sensor, which will allow us to identify the local pressure in onboard cavities in the hours and days after launch into orbit,” said Riccardo Rampini, head of ESA’s Materials’ Physics and Chemistry, in the ESA news release. These sensors also include a contamination monitoring tool that will measure sensitive deposits happening on either the satellite’s circuit board or the wooden body.