By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, January 26 2021—
A Japanese post-secondary institution located near the city of Osaka is joining a forestry company to produce the first ever wood satellites which will have the mission of reducing space junk in the earth’s atmosphere.
Kyoto University recently announced a partnership with Sumitomo Forestry to design and assemble wooden satellites. These new kinds of space capsules are set to be in orbit as early as 2023.
The project’s purpose in the long run is to provide a replacement to the main materials satellites are made of — mainly from aluminum. This will reduce possible environmental problems that could not only affect humans but the millions of living organisms around the world.
Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, who is part of the team at Kyoto University, has raised concerns about the risk that aluminum particles have upon the environment. These are formed when satellites re-enter the atmosphere breaking into small pieces “which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” said Doi to the BBC.
This development comes in good timing as companies, governments and organizations are increasing their efforts to lower contamination in every corner of the world which are now beginning to reach space.
Currently, the project is in its early stages and as reported by the BBC it is beginning “[to experiment] with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth.”
It is still unknown if government-owned agencies that send and produce satellites or private companies — such as SpaceX and Amazon which are beginning to produce and send satellites into orbit — may adopt this new technology in the future.