- Kyoto University is collaborating with a Japanese forestry company, Sumitomo Forestry, to develop a wooden satellite to send into orbit.
- The idea is that the device made of wood can burn safely upon re-entry and reduce the amount of space waste.
- Space waste is a growing concern among experts, who say it poses an environmental risk.
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Kyoto University is collaborating with a Japanese forestry company to develop wooden satellites for launch into orbit by 2023 in an effort to reduce space waste. The BBC reported on Monday.
Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University and a Japanese astronaut, told the BBC that the advantage of the wooden satellite is that if it fell from orbit and burned upon re-entry, it would not release as many harmful particles as metallic satellites.
“We are very concerned about the fact that all the satellites entering the Earth’s atmosphere are burning up and producing small particles of alumina that will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Doi said.
“It will ultimately affect the Earth’s environment,” Doi added.
Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry plan to test how well different types of wood can withstand the harsh conditions on Earth, with the goal of developing wood that can withstand wild fluctuations in temperature and sunlight.
Waste and space debris is a growing concern among experts.
“Space debris is a growing concern, and the collision of two massive objects of space debris – ranging in weight from 1 to 10 metric tons – poses the greatest environmental risk,” Daniel Ultrog, Director of the Center for Space Standards and Innovation, For Business Insider website last month.
Although estimates vary, Oltrogge said the CSSI believes there are about 760,000 objects larger than a centimeter in orbit.
This number is constantly growing, especially as commercial companies launch their own sets of satellites. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched nearly 900 high-speed internet satellites from Starlink, with plans to launch close to 12,000 to 42,000.
Amazon is leading a similar project called Project Kuiper. that Received FCC approval In July to launch 3,236 satellites.