World’s 1st Wooden Satellite Unveiled to Press; Will Help Determine Practicality of Wooden Material Use in Space

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Solar battery panels are attached to the black facets of the world’s first wooden satellite developed by Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry Co.

The world’s first wooden satellite, which was recently completed by Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry Co., was unveiled to the press on May 28.

When a satellite burns out in the atmosphere following the completion of its mission, it produces metal particles. However, wooden satellites can reduce the amount of those particles created.

The new satellite, which is small, is expected to be launched from the United States to the International Space Station in September before being deployed from Japan’s Kibo laboratory ISS module.

The satellite is a 10-centimeter cube and weighs about 1.1 kilograms, including the electronic circuit inside. The box is made from honoki, Japanese big-leaf magnolia, which is used to make sword scabbards and other items. A traditional framing technique of slotting the pieces together without nails or screws was adopted to make the satellite.

Solar battery panels are attached to the surface of the satellite. It will transmit data about its condition, such as warping and the temperature of its body, to Kyoto University for about six months. The data will be used for demonstrative experiments on whether wooden materials can be used in space.

“In the future, we’ll be able to plant trees on the moon and Mars and then build houses there,” said astronaut Takao Doi, who is also a program-specific professor at the university and a member of the team that created the satellite.