WISA Woodsat test flight takes it to the stratosphere

Yesterday we talked about the world's first wooden satellite called the WISA Woodsat. The satellite was built using specially treated plywood panels on its exterior to reduce the cost of building satellites meant to be used in space. On June 12, the Woodsat had its first test flight giving it a taste of the conditions it might be subject to in space when it is attached to a weather balloon to be carried to an altitude of approximately 30 kilometers above the Earth's surface into the stratosphere.

The goal of the stratospheric flight was to test Woodsat's communication capability, ability to accept commands, and the camera attached to an extending boom. The satellite was launched from Heureka Science Center at Vantaa, Finland. The balloon carrying the satellite took off at 13:25, with the flight lasting two hours and 54 minutes. The maximum altitude reached was 31.2 kilometers.

The balloon eventually exploded as planned, setting the satellite up to descend under a parachute where it landed safely in a forest a few kilometers southwest of the city of Lahti. The recovery team was on site soon after landing, but recovering the Woodsat proved more difficult than expected as it had come to rest in the top of a tall spruce tree.

Interestingly, the satellite's camera boom was able to snap a picture just as the balloon exploded. The test model worked as planned during its balloon-based flight, and preparations are underway for spaceflight in the future. The flight model of the Woodsat will be completed by the end of June.

One of the next steps in preparation for placing the satellite into space will see it placed inside of a space simulator and subjected to vibrations like those it would endure during a rocket launch. Woodsat is the world's first wooden satellite made from WISA-Birch plywood that has been coated against UV radiation using atomic layer deposition. Panels are also coated with an industrial UV lacquer. The plan is to send the satellite into orbit using a Rocket Lab Electron rocket.