World’s first wooden satellite passes test flight
June 15, 2021 | 12:25 pm CDT
WISA Woodsat nano plywood satellite

Plans call for the WISA Woodsat constructed of baltic plywood to be launched into orbit this fall.


VANTAA, Finland – The WISA Woodsat, a nanosatellite made with UPM birch plywood that is scheduled to launch into orbit this fall, completed a successful test run on June 12.

A functional model of the 4- x 4- x 4-inch wooden satellite was lofted into the stratosphere attached to a weather balloon from the Heureka Science Center. The purpose of the mission was to test WISA Woodsat’s camera and communications equipment in the harsh conditions of space. After reaching an altitude of 19 miles, the balloon exploded as planned and the tiny satellite parachuted back to earth. It was recovered intact in a spruce tree.

Balloon carrying WISA Woodsat explodes in the stratosphere
WISA Woodsat's camera captures a selfie of the weather balloon it is attached to exploding 19 miles above the Earth.

“Everything went just right,” said Samuli Nyman, WISA Woodsat’s head engineer. “From the telemetry data we see nicely how the satellite was behaving and now we can see if any changes to our systems are needed. It seems we don’t have any major issues.”

Plans call for the satellite, built in Finland, to be launched into space with a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand this fall. Once in orbit more than 300 miles above the Earth, the WISA Woodsat will deploy antennas and a selfie camera mounted on an extension arm.

According to UPM, the mission of the nanosatellite is to test the applicability of its WISA birch plywood, and wood in general, in spacecraft structures by exposing it to extreme space conditions, such as heat, cold, vacuum, and radiation. The only non-wooden external structural parts of the satellite are corner aluminum rails.

WISA Woodsat was inspired by Jari Makinen, founder of Arctic Astronautics. The main goal of the wooden satellite program is to research the potential of using reusable materials for space exploration.
Meanwhile, a team at Kyoto University in Japan is also drawing up plans to put a wooden satellite into space in 2023.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user richchristianson
About the author
Rich Christianson | President/Owner/C-Level

Rich Christianson is the owner of Richson Media LLC, a Chicago-based communications firm focused on the industrial woodworking sector. Rich is the former long-time editorial director and associate publisher of Woodworking Network. During his nearly 35-year career, Rich has toured more than 250 woodworking operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has written extensively on woodworking technology, design and supply trends. He has also directed and promoted dozens of woodworking trade shows, conferences and seminars including the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Conference & Expo, Canada’s largest woodworking show.