Japan Developing Wooden Satellites To Cut Space Junk

by : Daniel Richardson on : 29 Dec 2020 11:11
wooden space probeSUMITOMO FORESTRY/Shutterstock

When satellites stop functioning, they typically return to the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate causing pollution. Japan is now attempting to address this issue with emission cutting wooden satellites. 

It has been estimated that 990 satellites will be launched every year this decade, and this will lead to an unexpected issue. Old satellites will return to the Earth’s atmosphere and pollute. The satellites will also cause harm if they do not completely disintegrate. At the moment, 6,000 satellites are circling Earth, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), and 60 per cent of them are in disuse.


The growing amount of satellites will lead to a great deal of waste that will return to Earth. However, a team in Japan are planning to battle the issue.

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Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University have begun researching wooden materials for satellites, with the goal of reducing space waste. It is hoped that wooden materials would allow satellites to return to Earth without releasing harmful emissions or becoming dangerous debris.

Takao Doi, a professor at Kyoto University and Japanese astronaut, explained to BBC News what inspired the research and why it is important:


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.


Moving forward, the research teams will develop an engineering model of the satellite before they create a flight model. Exactly how the wood will manage to get into space and the nature of the material is still unclear and has been described as an ‘R&D Secret’.

Many will be exciting to see wood being launched into space, and it could lead to more sustainable space practices.


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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. Through working with the likes of Game Rant, The Hook and What Culture, Dan pursued his interests in technology. The skills he picked up along the way are now being utilised with UNILAD.

Topics: Technology, Japan, Now, Satellites, Space, Tech


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    Japan developing wooden satellites to cut space junk