- Kyoto University is developing a wooden satellite to orbit in collaboration with Japanese forestry company Sumitomo Forestry.
- The idea is that a device made of wood can burn safely upon re-entry and will produce less space junk.
- Space has become a growing concern among junk experts who say it is an environmental threat.
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The University of Kyoto is working closely with a Japanese forestry company, the BBC reports, to shoot wooden satellites by 2023 in an effort to cut space junk.
Kyoto University professor and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi told the BBC the benefit of a wooden satellite that if it falls out of orbit and burns on re-entry, it will not release as many harmful particles as metal satellites Will do.
“We are very concerned with the fact that all satellites that re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and form small alumina particles that will float in the upper atmosphere for many years. […] Eventually it will affect the Earth’s environment, ”said Doi.
Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry will begin to experiment on how different types of wood can withstand extreme conditions on Earth to develop a wood that can take wild fluctuations in temperature and sunlight.
Space junk and debris are becoming a growing concern among experts. “Space debris is a concern, and the collision of two large-scale space debris objects – ranging from one to ten metric tons – poses the greatest environmental risk,” Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI) director Daniel Altridge told Business Insider. Although estimates vary, Altrose said that CSSI believes that 760,000 objects larger than a centimeter are currently in orbit size.
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The number continues to grow, especially with commercial companies launching their own constellations of satellites. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched about 900 of its high-speed Internet Starlink satellites to date, and plans to eventually launch between 12,000 and 42,000.
Amazon is spearheading a similar project called Project Kuiper that received FCC approval in July to launch 3,236 satellites.