Space waste is a major problem and as the number of satellites continues to grow, the danger is increasing every day. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), there are nearly 6,000 satellites circling Earth and about 60% o them are space junk. Euroconsult has found that 990 satellites are added to orbit each year, and by 2028 there could be up to 15,000 satellites in orbit. There are also millions of dangerous debris in orbit.
Space debris is moving in orbit at speeds of over 20,000 mph, posing a danger to other satellites and astronauts. The solution could be the construction of wooden satellites. This is not a joke, but a real project that should be implemented by 2023.
Unique wooden satellite
Kyoto University is working on the development of wooden satellites with the Japanese mining company Sumitomo Forestry. The satellite will be called LignoSat and its shell will be made of wood. The wooden satellite has the advantage that it burns easily in the atmosphere at the end of its life and does not generate hazardous space waste. There are many extremely durable types of wood and wood materials are now being investigated that would be most suitable for the space environment.
Because wood does not block electromagnetic waves or the earth’s magnetic field, antennas and position control mechanisms can be placed in satellites. The wooden satellite burns perfectly in the atmosphere, so no one is endangered by falling debris. Sumitomo Forestry wants to develop wood materials that can withstand temperature changes, sunlight and other factors.
The team is led by a former astronaut
The team at Kyoto University is led by former astronaut Takao Doi, who visited the International Space Station in 2008.
“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.
“Eventually it will affect the environment of the Earth.”
“The next stage will be developing the engineering model of the satellite, then we will manufacture the flight model,” Professor Doi added.
The LignoSat satellite could revolutionize the space industry. If more wood satellites were used, it would be a greener solution to solve the problem of space debris.