The University of Kyoto and Sumitomo Forestry, a Japanese logging company, came together to develop the first satellite made of wood and plan to have it ready by 2023. The aim of the project is to find a way to reduce the amount of “space waste” ”Which orbits the Earth and constitutes, for example, a threat to other satellites and space vehicles.
In statements to the BBC, Takao Doi, a professor at the University of Kyoto and an astronaut, explains that there is great concern about the impact of “space junk”, in particular, with the high number of toxic particles left by the satellites when they reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.
The entities behind the project claim that, unlike ordinary satellites, the wooden equipment being developed burns completely when it enters the atmosphere of our planet without leaving particles or other toxic waste.
Another advantage relates to the use of simpler structures, since wood does not block electromagnetic waves or the terrestrial magnetic field, allowing the placement of components such as antennas within the satellite.
It is recalled that, according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists, in April this year, there were about 6,000 satellites orbiting the Earth. However, only 2,666 were, in fact, operational: a number that, in the meantime, grew to 2,787 in August.
The problem of “space debris” in Earth’s orbit is also recognized by ESA as a threat. In early December, the agency had to carry out a special maneuver to deflect one of its satellites, CryoSat, and prevent it from colliding with space debris.
ESA has ongoing projects to remove “space debris” from Earth’s orbit and recently announced an € 86 million contract with several European companies, including Portuguese Critical Software and Deimos, for the first space debris removal mission from orbit from the earth.