ESA Flying Payloads on Wooden Satellite

by | Jun 10, 2021

WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 centimeter CubeSat, a type of nanosatellite built up from standardised boxes, but with surface panels made from plywood. Woodsat's only non-wooden external parts are corner aluminium rails used for its deployment into space plus a metal selfie stick.

The mission was initiated by Jari Makinen, Finnish writer and broadcaster. He co-founded a company called Arctic Astronautics, which markets fully functional replicas of orbit-ready CubeSats for education, training and hobby purposes. I've always enjoyed making model planes, involving a lot of wooden parts. Having worked in the space education field, this got me wondering; why don't we fly any wooden materials in space?

So I had the idea first of all to fly a wooden satellite up to the stratosphere, aboard a weather balloon. That happened in 2017, with a wooden version of KitSat. That having gone well, we decided to upgrade it and actually go into orbit. From there the project just snowballed: we found commercial backing, and secured a berth on an Electron launcher from Rocket Lab in New Zealand.

Woodsat is due to launch before the end of 2021.

Image Credit: Arctic Astronautics 

 

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