Wooden satellites are in the works, would cut "space junk"
January 4, 2021 | 10:09 am CST

Photo By Sumitomo Forestry

JAPAN - From car tires, fiber optic cables, and sticky tape, we've covered many items we didn't think would ever be made of wood. But this one may top the list.
Japanese logging company Sumitomo Forestry will work with Japan's Kyoto University to develop the world's first satellites made from wood. And they expect to have them ready for space travel by 2023.
The partnership will first research tree growth and the use of wood materials in space. The next phase will be to engineer a working model.
The incentive for wooden satellites is to get a better grip over the growing problem of what Kyoto calls "space junk."
"We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth's atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years," Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University and Japanese astronaut, told the BBC.
Wooden satellites would avoid this problem says Kyoto, which instead would burn up without raining debris or expelling dangerous substances.
The World Economic Forum estimates there are around 6,000 satellites currently circling Earth, with about 60 percent being no longer operational.
Sumitomo is one of Japan's largest forest products companies, owning more than 40,000 hectares of forest in the country. 

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]