Toothpicks. Tables. Boxes. Shave. Satellites? An ambitious project will send a small wooden satellite into orbit later this year to see if it can withstand the brutal conditions in space. It has already survived a test drive into the stratosphere.
WISA Woodsat is a 4-inch (1
Woodsat was conceived by Jari Makinen, co-founder of the CubeSat replica kit company Arctic Astronautics. The European Space Agency, or ESA, provides a range of sensors to track satellite performance and will also assist with pre-flight testing.
The only non-wood parts of the plywood satellite on the outside are aluminum rails needed to release the satellite into space and an expandable selfie stick that holds a camera pointed back at the body. A more typical CubeSat would be made with more metal components.
“The base material for plywood is birch, and we use pretty much the same as you would find in a hardware store or to make furniture,” Woodsat chief engineer and Arctic Astronatics co-founder Samuli Nyman said in an ESA statement last week. week.
The plywood used in the satellite has been dried out and treated to give it a better chance of standing up to the room conditions. Woodsat’s team expects the exterior to darken, but will also look at whether cracks occur while in orbit.
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A Woodsat test model pulled a trip into the stratosphere on a weather balloon on June 12th. “The main objective of this short flight was to use satellite systems and camera equipment under space-like conditions,” Arctic Astronautics said in a statement. The flight lasted just under three hours. The plywood came out fine and the camera worked as expected.
If Woodsat does well, it could spur a new look at wood as a possible material for use in space. “Ultimately,” said Makinen, “Woodsat is simply a beautiful object in terms of traditional Nordic design and simplicity, it should be very interesting to see it in orbit.”
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