Space debris or space pollution is the human-made object in space or in the orbit of the earth that is no longer useful.
An increasing amount of debris in space is now becoming a concern. With the increasing density of space junk in the earth’s orbit, the hazardous consequences are also increasing. The increase in Space Junk is leading to an increase in the chance of collisions of active satellites and spacecraft.
Keeping these problems in mind a Japanese startup, Sumitomo Forestry has partnered with a team of researchers from the Kyoto University to work on an ambitious project of developing a wooden satellite.
Sumitomo Forestry is a part of the Sumitomo Group which was founded more than 400 years ago.
Sumitomo Forestry and a team of researchers from Kyoto University are working on the development of a wooden satellite to decrease the amount of increasing space debris density. However, the plan is at a nascent stage and Sumitomo Forestry is working on the testing of the wood material that can be suitable for the satellite. They will soon test the wood at different locations and in different harsh conditions on Earth. With the ongoing developments in the plan, the researcher team aims to launch the world’s first wooden satellite in 2023.
Wooden satellites are considered better alternatives than the traditional satellites as they will burn while entering the earth’s atmosphere and will leave no harmful substance behind them. No space junk will be created and the risk of substance falling back to the earth’s atmosphere and causing damage here will be also reduced.
Professor at Kyoto University and Japanese astronaut, Takao Doi said that “We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years………Eventually, it will affect the environment of the Earth.”
“The next stage will be developing the engineering model of the satellite, then we will manufacture the flight model,” he added.
By making a replica of the current satellites with wood they can reduce this risk and prevent the long-term harmful effects.
Takao Doi has visited the International Space Station in March 2008 and he also became the first person to throw a boomerang in space which was designed for use in microgravity.
The company has not unveiled the wood they are using and kept it as an “R&D secret”.In a statement, they said that they are working on a kind of wood that is “highly resistant to temperature changes and sunlight”.
The ultimate aim of the researchers is to reduce space junk. However, a report of a popular website that covers news and opinions about technology said that the wooden satellite will not make much difference. The article posted by the website read that the space junk largely consists of the booster or the equipment used to propel the satellites into space and even if the wood is used the number will not change much. Even if the satellite de-orbits the wood will burn down but this will not prevent aluminum chunks to get into the mix as they can also come from rockets.
Howevr, The need for reducing space pollution by using the wooden satellite has actually highlighted the issue of space pollution. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 60 percent of the total number of satellites orbiting around the earth are defunct.
In every year of this decade, 990 satellites will be launched estimated by the Research firm Euroconsult and by 2028 there could be 15,000 satellites revolving around the earth’s orbit.