New wooden satellite is part advertising, part student project

Enlarge (credit: WISA WOODSAT)

Late last year, we were extremely skeptical of reports regarding a plan for wooden satellites that seemed confused about what could be gained from using the natural material. But a wooden satellite looks like it might get to orbit later this year, via a project we can fully endorse. It's a bit of silly advertising by a plywood manufacturer that will ensure that a student project gets sent to space.

The project, based in Finland, is called the WISA WOODSAT, and it has taken a bit of an indirect route to orbit. The design is based on a CubeSat format called Kitsat, which is intended for student projects. If the goal is simply to expose students to what it takes to make a compact satellite (the design is a 10 cm/side cube), the satellite can be built using cheap, easy-to-obtain hardware. But it can also be made using space-rated materials and sent to orbit.

The WOODSAT started out as more of the former, with students around the country contributing different parts to a CubeSat that was then taken aloft by a balloon. But now, with an opportunity to go to orbit, another version is getting an upgrade to survive the harsh environment.

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