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Rendering of the WISA Woodsat

WISA WOODSATTM is not a joke. For sure it's funny and will bring smiles, but behind the surface it is a serious science and technology endeavor.

The core of the satellite is a Kitsat, the educational satellite made by Arctic Astronautics for use in schools and science centres. It is in principle the same as a real nanosatellite, 1-unit CubeSat, but designed for classroom use. Kitsats can be upgraded to a space-worthy status.

And now we are doing so by replacing parts, adding safety measures and taking the mission specific issues in consideration.

The outer panels and part of the main structure of the satellite is made of wood: UPM WISA®-Birch plywood. The main idea of the satellite is to test the applicability of this coated birch plywood (and wooden materials in general) in spacecraft structures and expose it to space conditions for an extended period of time.

The behavior of the plywood will be monitored visually by a camera on a deployable boom and measured with several sensors. In addition, an experimental Quartz crystal balance sensor will be provided by the Materials laboratory of the European Space Agency.

Additionally, the mission aims to popularize satellite communication and space technology to the general public and enable new radio amateurs to contact the satellite with minimal radio equipment. Read more about this in a separate blog text.

The satellite will also host three secondary technology demonstrations: the use of permanent magnet based attitude control system, LoRa radio amateur communications, and the study of a conformal coating to protect space electronics against corroding effects of atomic oxygen. 

As Kitsat has been originally thought to be space-worthy (with small modifications), this mission validates the Kitsat satellite platform in orbit.

Finally, the mission – preparations included – is used for educational and inspirational purposes. The satellite design, construction, testing, launch preparations, launch, early orbit operations and use in space will be documented and made publicly available online. The majority of the data and photos sent by satellite, as well as radio amateur test messages, will also be available for all.

Just as the Kitsat educational satellite concept, the WISA Woodsat will hopefully help the general audience to better understand space technology, astronomy, technology, and science.

The launch cost will be covered by the manufacturer of the plywood, UPM Plywood Oy, and the deployable camera boom is designed and provided by the engineering company Huld Oy

The satellite will be launched to space during the fall of 2021 with a Rocket Lab Electron small launcher from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand.

We'll tell more details and interesting stories about the different aspects of this diverse mission on Kitsat blog.

Join us for this thrilling mission to send wood where no wood has gone before!

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Technical facts: A nanosatellite based on popular CubeSat standard

Mass 1 kg
Size 10 x 10 x 10 cm
Powered by 9 solar cells
2 cameras

Targeted orbit: SSO (polar orbit), 500 - 550 km.

Electron made by Rocket Lab, USA
Launch site is located in New Zealand.