NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have joined forces to plan the launch of the world’s first wooden satellite into outer space. LignoSat, a coffee mug-sized satellite made of magnolia wood, is set to be launched into Earth’s orbit by the summer of 2024. This initiative is part of an effort to make spaceflight more sustainable.
The unique aspect of using wood for the satellite is that it doesn’t burn or rot in the vacuum of space. However, upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, it will incinerate into a fine ash, making it an unexpectedly useful and biodegradable material for future satellites. After successfully testing wood samples aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, scientists are confident about LignoSat’s readiness for launch.
According to a statement from researchers, despite being exposed to extreme space conditions and intense cosmic rays and solar particles for ten months during testing on the ISS, magnolia specimens showed no deformation. The wood used in LignoSat includes magnolia, cherry, and birch, with magnolia being chosen for its lower likelihood of splitting or breaking during manufacturing.
There are currently over 9,300 tons of space debris orbiting Earth, which presents a problem related to space junk. Metal components in spacecraft increase overall brightness in the night sky and contribute to light pollution. Scientists believe that wooden spacecraft like LignoSat could be less harmful as space debris due to their biodegradable nature. This move represents an innovative approach aimed at addressing challenges related to spaceflight.
In conclusion, NASA and JAXA are working together towards making space travel more environmentally friendly by introducing wooden satellites into outer space. The use of wood as a building material for satellites presents an innovative solution to mitigate problems associated with metal components in traditional spacecraft materials such as light pollution and waste disposal issues that have become prevalent over time.
LignoSat has already undergone successful testing aboard the International Space Station earlier this year before being launched into Earth’s orbit by summer 2024. The potential benefits this technology brings include reducing the environmental impact of traditional metal-based materials while paving way for further research on sustainable practices in space exploration.