Japan developing wooden satellites

The Sumitomo Group and Kyoto University have joined forces to develop, , by 2023, what they hope will be the world’s first satellites made out of wood. Sumitomo Forestry said it has started research on tree growth and the use of wood materials in space.

The partnership will begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments and will work on developing wooden materials highly resistant to temperature changes and sunlight.

Space junk is becoming an increasing problem as more satellites are launched into the atmosphere. Wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth.

There are nearly 6,000 satellites circling Earth, according to the World Economic Forum, which are used for communication, television, navigation and weather forecasting. About 60% of them are defunct (space junk).

Research firm Euroconsult estimates that 990 satellites will be launched every year this decade, which means that by 2028, there could be 15,000 satellites in orbit.

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