Europe to launch renewable wooden satellite made of plywood

Filed in Internet by on June 14, 2021

To raise awareness about the use of renewable materials in space, a Scandinavian business aims to launch the world’s first wooden satellite.

Previously, Japan planned to launch the world’s first wooden satellite in 2023, but it now appears like Europe will beat Japan to the punch, with plans to launch its wooden satellite before the end of the year.

Arctic Astronautics, a Finnish firm, has proposed the European design, which was inspired by Jari Makinen’s passion of building model planes. In 2017, his business launched a wooden satellite onboard a weather balloon and chose to upgrade their plans to a fully orbital satellite, which will be launched by Rocket Lab of New Zealand.

The satellite, which measures around 10cm on each side and weighs one kilogram, is made of inexpensive materials. The team expects that its design will aid in the transition of space technology away from fossil fuels and toward renewable materials such as wood.

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Woodsat chief engineer and Arctic Astronautics co-founder Samuli Nyman noted, “The base material for plywood is birch, and we’re utilizing basically the same as you’d find at a hardware store or to manufacture furniture.”

“The fundamental difference is that regular plywood is too damp for space applications, so we dry it off in a thermal vacuum chamber. We next employ atomic layer deposition to build a very thin aluminum oxide layer, which is commonly used to encase electronics. This should reduce any undesirable vapors from the wood in the space field, known as “outgassing,” while also guarding against the erosive effects of atomic oxygen. On other portions of the wood, we’ll also test various varnishes and lacquers.”

Onboard the mini-satellite will be sensors such as a pressure sensor and an LED with a photoresistor that can be used to check the satellite’s health. It will also include a selfie stick and two inbuilt cameras for taking images of the satellite. The team expects that the final product will be both beautiful and functional.

“In the end, Woodsat is just a lovely thing in terms of traditional Nordic style and simplicity; seeing it in orbit should be fascinating,” Makinen added. “We hope it inspires people to take a greater interest in satellites and the space sector as something that already has an impact on all of our lives and will only grow in the futur

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