The world’s first plywood satellite set for a serious space mission


Forget aluminum and titanium. The world’s first plywood satellite will begin a serious space mission in November. WISA Woodsat, a miniature, cube-shaped satellite, will be launched by Finland to a base in New Zealand after a successful preliminary journey into the stratosphere.

“Nanosatellite” measures just 4 by 4 by 4 inches and is made of birch plywood – specifically a brand called WISA, manufactured by UPM, a Finnish paper mill. The small, affordable spacecraft made a 3-hour test flight 19 miles above Earth in June – launched from a balloon. Woodsat also took a picture of himself using a built-in selfie stick.

“One of the most common questions we get is ‘why plywood?’ – and our answer is ‘why not’? Dried plywood, like all other materials, is like a natural composite material with its own positive and negative properties.

“While raw wood is not suitable for the primary structures of satellites, plywood is completely different. Plywood supports temperature changes well and is light and strong,” says the guide.

“The main idea behind WISA Woodsat is to test how plywood behaves not only in space, but also when building a satellite.”

A serious launch flight for the spacecraft is scheduled for November on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket launched from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand.

“The satellite’s mission is to test the viability of wood materials, particularly WISA-Birch plywood, in spacecraft structures and expose it to extreme space conditions such as heat, cold, vacuum and radiation for extended periods of time,” he said. the company said in a statement.

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