The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to take part in the launch of a new satellite into Earth orbit.
So far, nothing abnormal, except that it will be the first wooden satellite to be sent into space.
With this new type of space device, imagined by Finnish writer and founder of Arctic Astronautics, Jari Makinen, ESA is looking to see if this material would not be stronger than metal in space.
Since this is a test, the wooden satellite will not be as large as traditional satellites.
The Woodsat Wisa will be a CubeSat nanosatellite only 10cm square, constructed from birch plywood panels.
This material has been specially treated to best survive the harsh environment of space.
The wooden structure should certainly take some damage as the device is put into orbit - the Woodsat team expects it to darken - but it's mostly about checking for cracks forming on the signs.
Huge savings at stake
Made in Finland, the device will contain several sensors developed by ESA.
These will make it possible "to identify the local pressure in the on-board cavities in the hours and days following putting into orbit."
This is an important factor in powering up high power systems and radio frequency antennas, as small amounts of molecules in the cavity can potentially cause damage to them, ”ESA said in a statement.
The wooden satellite will have to resist both the hostile environment of space, but also the potential shocks with space debris.
These - in numbers around the Earth - do a lot of damage whether it is on other satellites or on the ISS.
In addition to making it possible to achieve significant savings - wood is indeed an inexpensive material compared to metal - and therefore, to be able to send more devices into space, wooden satellites would make it possible to reduce space debris. since, at the end of their life, they could be more easily disintegrated.
The launch of Woodsat Wisa is expected by the end of the year.
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