Japan Develops Wooden Satellites to Eliminate Space Debris

Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry Co.Ltd. have signed a joint research contract for “Basic Research on Tree Growth and Wood Utilization in Space“. “Space Wood Project (known as LignoStella Project)” has started. In 2023, the wooden artificial satellite “LignoSat” will be launched, and until March 31, 2024, wood property evaluation and tree growth research will be conducted in the space environment.

At Kyoto University, in 2016, astronaut Takao Doi was appointed as a  professor in the Kyoto University Space Research Unit. Launched a new theme, “Basic Research on the Practicality of Wood Resources in Space,” and is currently at the Graduate School of Comprehensive Survival Academy on the dynamic properties of wood in vacuum and the basics of tree growth under low gravity and low pressure. Sumitomo Forestry established the Tsukuba Research Institute in 1991 as a base for widespread research and development with the aim of comprehensively utilizing trees. With the goal of 2041, which marks the 350th anniversary of its founding, promoting the W350 project, a research and technology development concept that symbolizes wooden skyscrapers.

This time, both  have agreed on their vision of “developing research technology that enhances the value of trees, paving the way for forest formation and timber utilization in space, and contributing to the sustainable development of humankind,” and gathered the resources of both parties. Then, it was decided to start the “LignoStella Project”.

In the project, the world’s first wooden artificial satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2023 in order to clarify the possibility of using wood in outer space and to obtain basic knowledge on using wood in outer space in the future. Since wood transmits electromagnetic waves and geomagnetism, if the artificial satellite is made of wood, an antenna and attitude control device can be installed inside the satellite, and the satellite structure can be simplified. In addition, when it enters the atmosphere after the end of operation, it burns out completely and does not generate minute substances (alumina particles) that can be a source of pollution such as the atmospheric environment at the time of combustion, leading to the development of a cleaner and environmentally friendly artificial satellite.

In addition, through research on wood in the space environment, we will jointly develop ultra-high weather resistant wood building materials for wooden construction, expand the use of wood in the global environment, and develop next-generation human resources with high expertise. I will work on it.


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