NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are planning to experiment with wooden satellites to address the issue of space junk. Traditional satellites made of aluminum-titanium and kevlar are being replaced by wooden satellites. It is important to understand the benefits of this change. According to NASA and JAXA, they will launch a satellite named “Lignosat” in 2024.
Lignosat is made of Mongolian wood. Experts familiar with the satellite state that it does not burn or erode in a vacuum. The most important factor is that when it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it will burn and turn into ash. This way, the Earth will be rid of space junk. Testing of wooden samples took place at the International Space Station and yielded promising results. Scientists believe that wooden satellites can be successfully launched.
Metal-made spacecraft are not only expensive but also pose a danger to both the ISS and Earth. Therefore, wooden satellites are capable of reducing these risks.
Experiments were conducted on three wooden samples in different environments at the space station. These samples were tested in extreme temperatures and cosmic ray exposure, and no distortion or damage was recorded. It is worth noting that these samples remained intact. To determine the ideal wood for satellite construction, samples of Mongolian, Cherry, and Birch wood were sent to the space station. Mongolian wood was found to be the best option due to its low risk of breakage.
Currently, there are approximately 9300 tons of space debris orbiting in space. Furthermore, the use of titanium and aluminum in satellites has contributed to light pollution. Considering these factors, wood is being considered as an alternative.