Japan to launch first wooden satellite soon

Japan wooden Satellite
Japan wooden Satellite

Japan is preparing to launch the world’s first satellite made largely of wood, marking a watershed moment in the quest for sustainable space exploration. This revolutionary satellite, developed in collaboration by Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry, intends to lessen the environmental impact of space debris.

The use of wood, a biodegradable material, provides a novel solution to the rising problem of dead satellites in Earth’s orbit. This research is a big step forward, demonstrating innovation in solving the challenges of space pollution and paving the path for more environmentally sensitive space initiatives.

The Satellite: LignoSat probe

The LignoSat probe is not a “wooden satellite” in the conventional sense. It’s a coffee-mug-sized cubesat fashioned of magnolia wood, a sustainable and biodegradable alternative to the traditional aluminum used in satellite manufacturing.

This novel project is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA, with experts from Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry providing their expertise.

The major goal of LignoSat is to determine the viability of using wood in space exploration to reduce space trash. Traditional metal satellites do not completely burn up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, adding to the growing problem of space debris. Wood, on the other hand, is projected to completely burn up, leaving little to no debris.

Why Wood in Space?

Wood may appear to be an unusual choice for space, yet it provides a distinct environmental benefit. Unlike ordinary metal satellites, which contribute to space debris after their demise, LignoSat is meant to entirely burn up upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, leaving no damaging or lasting fragments. This unique solution, which employs a readily available, renewable resource, addresses the rising issue of space debris, opening the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future in space travel.


Target launch date: Summer 2024

The mission’s success could mark a significant step towards more sustainable space exploration. It would also be a testament to human ingenuity in finding innovative solutions to address the growing challenges of space debris.

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