The results of a recent test on the International Space Station (ISS) have confirmed that wood is resistant to space conditions. Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have confirmed that various types of wood exposed to the vacuum of space did not deform or degrade.
Now, NASA and the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) are planning to launch the world’s first wooden satellite made from magnolia wood. The satellite, named LignoSat, is scheduled to launch into Earth’s orbit in the summer of 2024. Unlike metals used in satellite production, wood does not burn or rot in space. When the wooden satellite reenters Earth’s atmosphere, it completely burns, making it an environmentally friendly material.
During the testing phase on the ISS, three wood samples – magnolia, cherry, and birch – were sent to determine the most suitable material. Magnolia was chosen due to its resistance to damage during the satellite manufacturing process.
The use of wood as a satellite material has several potential advantages over metal alloys. Metals used in satellites contribute to light pollution, making it difficult to observe cosmic phenomena. Wood, on the other hand, is more environmentally friendly and can be produced, disposed of, and recycled with greater ease and at a lower cost. This innovative project aims to create a more sustainable approach to space launches.
With the successful confirmation of wood’s suitability for space conditions, the LignoSat project scientists believe the wooden satellite is ready for launch. By utilizing wood as a material, future satellites could have a reduced impact on the environment and contribute to more sustainable space exploration.