Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University have jointed forces to create what they believe will be the world's first satellite made out of wood. The scheduled release of this project is on 2023.
Japanese wooden satellites
Sumitomo Forestry added that it has started research on tree growth and the use of wood materials in space. The partnership between the company and the university will being the experiment by using different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth.
Metal debris in space is becoming an increasing problem as more and more satellites are launched into the atmosphere. or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to the planet.
Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University and a Japanese astronaut, told the BBC that they are very concerned with the fact that all of the satellites that re-enter the planet's atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for decades.
Doi added that eventually, this process will affect the environment of the Earth. The next stage of the project will include developing the engineering model of the wooden satellite. After which, the company will manufacture the flight model.
As an astronaut, Doi visited the International Space Station back in March 2008. During his mission, Doi became the first person to throw a boomerang in space. The said boomerang had been created for use in microgravity.
Sumitomo Forestry is part of the Sumitomo Group. The group was founded more than 400 years ago. The group said it would work on creating and manufacturing wood materials that are highly resistant to temperature changes and to direct sunlight.
The wood that it is using is an R&D secret, according to the spokesman for the company.
Numerous experts have warned of the increasing threat of space junk falling to Earth, as more satellites and spacecraft are launched every year.
Satellites are increasingly being used for television, communication, weather forecasting and navigation. Space experts and researchers have been investigating different option as they desperately try to look for ways to remove and reduce space junk.
There are almost 6,000 satellites that are currently circling Earth, according to the World Economic Forum or WEF. About 60% of them are defunct, or called space junk.
According to the research firm Euroconsult, around 900 satellites will be launched every year in this decade alone, which means that by 2028, there could be 15,000 satellites circling the orbit.
SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, has already launched more than 900 Starlink satellites and he still has plans to deploy thousands more into space.
Space junk travels at an incredibly fast speed of more than 22,300 mph, so can have cause considerable damage to any object that it might hit.
In 2006, a piece of space junk collided with the International Space Station and took a chip out of the heavily reinforced window. In 2019, Forbes reported that a Japanese-based company, Astroscale, wants to clean up the space debris from the Earth's orbit as the number of junks increase.
In October 2020, the company was able to secure enough funds and develop ELSA-d, the satellite that will clean the orbit. The company is now waiting for the launch date.
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Written by Sieeka Khan