Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry is partnering with Kyoto University to create the globe’s inaugural wooden satellite. The dual entities have initiated the research process to explore the potential uses of timber in space. This research will assess the possibilities of tree growth and timber usage in extreme environments on this planet. If these experiments prove successful, the project aims to present the timber-inspired satellite by 2023.

In the eyes of Sumitomo Forestry, wooden satellites supply a real solution for reducing space junk. Space experts have discussed the possibilities of a sharp increase in space junk caused by satellites. The World Economic Forum estimates that about 6,000 satellites are revolving around the planet Earth, of which 60 percent are defunct.

Satellites are shot off into space for different applications. Once the satellites complete their mission, they stay in space. These satellites slowly fall apart, with alumina particles or other metals remaining behind in the upper atmosphere. These pieces may linger in the atmosphere for many years. They pollute the atmosphere and could descend to Earth.

Kyoto University researchers assert that timber satellites can disintegrate in outer space without creating dangerous junk. Once a satellite has fulfilled its usefulness, it will slowly fall apart, thus avoiding the creation of additional space junk.

Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University asserts that the phenomenon of “space junk” could stand to impact the global environment.

He expresses a concern about the fact that all satellites re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere will burn to produce miniscule alumina particles that will float in the upper atmosphere for a long time. He said that the project’s next stage will involve the conception of the engineering model of the satellite, followed by the manufacturing of the flight model.

Research firm Euroconsult says that if all factors stay consistent, about 990 satellites will be launched into space annually through the next 10 years. This means that, by 2028, about 15,000 satellites will orbit the planet. As we speak, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched more than 900 Starlink satellites into outer space, and the company plans to release thousands more in addition. With no sustainability modifications, these endeavours are bound to contribute to the space junk issue.

Source: Inhabitat