Space testing shows Magnolia may be best for LignoSat’s woody satellite


Sampling for Sustainability in Outer Space

The future of wood may reach outer space. Image credit: KyotoU Global Comms/Jake Tobiyama

An international project led by Kyoto University has tested and confirmed the high durability of aerospace woods on the International Space Station – the International Space Station. The results of the experiment showed little deterioration and good stability for the samples selected for the LignoSat wooden satellite.

The research team conducted a preliminary examination including strength tests and structural, elemental and crystallographic analyzes of the wood samples, retrieved from space by astronaut Koichi Wakata and returned to Earth from the International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-26 – a commercial resupply service mission.

Despite the harsh environment of outer space involving large temperature changes and exposure to intense cosmic rays and dangerous solar particles for ten months, tests confirmed no decomposition or decomposition. deformitiessuch as cracking, warping, peeling, or surface damage.

Three samples of wood were tested and showed no deformation after exposure to space. The results of the experiment also confirmed that there was no change in mass in each wood sample before and after exposure to space.

The research group has determined that the LignoSat, scheduled to be launched jointly in 2024 by NASA and JAXA, will likely use Magnolia wood — or “Hoonoki” in Japanese — for its ideal properties. The team determined the relatively high workability, dimensional stability, and overall strength of the Magnolia.

In April 2020, Kyoto University and Sumitomo Forestry jointly launched the LignoStella Space Wood Project. they ran space Exposure tests over 290 days in 2022 on the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo of the International Space Station.

Ahead of the planned launch of a wooden satellite in 2024, the research group is studying the underlying mechanism of material degradation at the nanoscale. Their findings may lead to powerful, high-performance research wood Materials for new applications.

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