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Sputnik (left) vs. WISA Woodsat (right)
Happy 64th anniversary, Sputnik! World’s first satellite was launched to space on 4 October 1957.

It was a metal sphere of 58 cm in diameter, had a mass of 84 kg and four long antennas for sending the famous radio beeps, signalling the beginning of the space age.

The decades after Sputnik has brought us many services that are almost vital in everyday life flew us to the moon and opened new horizons in space. This revolution is celebrated always in early October with World Space Week. 

The week starts today on 4 October and ends on 10 October, and that means World Space Week 2021 starts today!

The week features thousands of events globally, inspiring the next generation and celebrating this year especially the accomplishments and contributions of women to the space sector.

The WISA Woodsat team is also celebrating this week – not only by pushing the projects ahead but also by posting each day something interesting.

Today we just compare our satellite with Sputnik. 

Sputnik was the first artificial satellite in orbit, WISA Woodsat will be the first wooden satellite. 

Sputnik’s surface was covered with a highly polished 1 mm-thick aluminium–magnesiumtitanium alloy, ours is 9mm thick WISA-Birch plywood machined to about 6 mm thick and covered with a protective layer, either with a super-thin, invisible aluminium layer made by ALD technology by Picosun or a two-component polyurethane varnish Temadur by Tikkurila.

While Sputnik was more than half a metre wide, our satellite is just slightly wider than 10 cm. Sputnik weighed 84 kg, WISA Woodsat is just less than one kilo. 

The maximum power of the Sputnik’s batteries was 1 W. Nine small solar panels of WISA Woodsat will produce 2 watts in optimal conditions.

And when the main purpose of Sputnik was just to operate in space and send radio signals, our satellite has a scientific purpose: studying the behaviour of the plywood in space and learning the methods how biomaterials can be used in space applications. Therefore WISA Woodsat has two cameras, one mini laboratory from the European Space Agency and an atomic oxygen experiment by Captain Corrosion from Estonia. 

Our small satellite will be a fully packed cube, whilst Sputnik had quite a lot of empty space inside its sphere.

Sputnik’s whip-like antennas, each about 2,5 metres long, were open already during the launch, but our camera boom – a 20 cm long selfie stick – will open in space from the enclosure on the bottom part of the satellite. The scissor mechanism and the supporting structure are provided by Huld with help from Delva and Nurmilo; the parts are manufactured by 3D metal printing and are also first in space as additively manufactured metal parts have never been used before in critical parts of the satellite. 

Just like almost any person with an HF radio had a possibility to listen to Sputnik's radio signals, also WISA Woodsat can be contacted by the radio amateurs: with LoRa technology anyone can build a ground station costing as little as 10 euros. Additionally, the photos and data of the satellite will be shared publicly on social media and our website. 

Quite a change since Sputnik – and our satellite is definitely not the most advanced satellite, nor the smallest!