Scientists create world's first real satellite made of wood: It will be launched into space this year

May 29, 2024  12:20

Scientists from Kyoto University in Japan, together with forest processing corporation Sumitomo Forestry, have developed the world's first satellite made of wood. It's called LignoSat, and it's scheduled to be launched into space on a SpaceX rocket this year.

The development of the satellite took four years, it all started in April 2020.

According to, the satellite has dimensions of about 100 x 100 x 100 mm and wall thickness 4-5.5 mm. The device is made from magnolia wood, selected for its strength and manufacturability. The scientists also tested cherry and birch, but ultimately chose magnolia. The wood was sourced from Sumitomo Forestry.

The satellite was assembled using traditional Japanese woodworking technology, without the use of fasteners or glue. The design, however, is not only wood - there are also several aluminum parts, as well as solar panels. The total mass of the satellite is only 1 kg.

Ground tests confirmed that the wood contained in the satellite will not have any harmful effects on the health and safety of astronauts, as well as on precision equipment and optical components.

The LignoSat project aims to combat space debris and promote greener space activities. Current international regulations require that satellites be returned to the atmosphere after mission completion and not become space debris. Conventional satellites pose a risk of air pollution due to metal particles produced upon entry into the atmosphere. The wooden satellite is expected to burn up completely in the atmosphere when returning to Earth.

Within six months of launch, data will be collected on the expansion and contraction of the wood from which the satellite is made, internal temperature, geomagnetism and the operation of electronic equipment. These data, obtained by the Kyoto University Communications Station, will form the basis for the development of a second satellite, LignoSat-2.

Sumitomo Forestry will also study the results to understand how wood degrades at the nanoscale, with the goal of developing technologies that prevent wood from decomposing and creating new ways to use it, including high-strength materials for building exteriors.

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