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Science

World's first wooden satellite to be launched by Japan in 2023

Sumitomo Forestry studies potential for wood materials in extreme environments

A wooden satellite could house components used for data transmission or attitude control.

TOKYO -- Japanese logging company Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University are planting the seeds for a 2023 launch of the world's first satellite made out of wood.

The partners announced their intentions on Wednesday, saying the aim was basic research and proof of concept.

They have agreed to conduct research on tree growth and the use of wood materials in space. They hope to promote technology for using wood in extreme environments on Earth.

Wood does not block electromagnetic waves or the Earth's magnetic field. This enables devices such as antennas and attitude control mechanisms to be placed inside a wooden satellite, allowing for simpler structures. In addition, when a wooden satellite de-orbits and plunges back to Earth, it would burn up completely without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground.

Through March 2024, the partners also will study building wooden structures in space environments. Sumitomo Forestry aims to develop wooden construction materials highly resistant to the elements as well as temperature changes and sunlight.

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