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Image taken by the satellite camera during the last stratospheric flight in last summer.
We like ballooning! And because a stratosphere is the closest we can get to space without launching to orbit, we'll test the satellite systems once again on stratospheric balloon flight tomorrow on 9 February. Now the deployable camera boom will be commanded to open and the systems of the satellite will be verified.

While the exact launch time of the actual satellite is still TBD, hopefully ASAP, almost all parts for the satellite and a spare one are waiting for the final assembly. This will be done right away when we have all the licenses needed and clarity about the launch time.

Meanwhile, our teams are making sure that the satellite is in perfect shape and the most crucial single action needed will function perfectly: the opening of the "selfie stick". This deployable structure will be pop out from the bottom part of the satellite by spings triggered by wire burners.

This test will be done up in the stratosphere, in space-like conditions by commanding the satellite to do it just like it will be done later in space.

As one of our missions is also spread the word about the possibilities of the New Space Economy in Finland, we teamed up with Seinäjoki city for this test flight. 

Seinäjoki, as the vivid capital of the Pohjanmaa district, famous for its open space and plains, is an excellent choice for satellite testing, and the satellite itself has been designed with local expertise.

Seinäjoki Mayor Jaakko Kiiskilä will launch the satellite from Seinäjoki Town Hall in Lakeudenpuisto on the 9 February 2022, at 11 a.m. (weather permitting). The test flight will be organized in cooperation with the city of Seinäjoki, the city development company Into, and the companies responsible for the construction and launching of the satellite; Arctic Astronautics and Huld.

A wooden satellite with a selfie stick

WISA Woodsat is a unique Finnish innovation. It is the first satellite made of wood. Its purpose is to study the useability of wood materials in the construction of satellites and space equipment. The crazy-sounding idea has proven to be surprisingly potential because technically, the birch plywood used on the satellite is like a bio-based composite material. In tests and experiments so far, plywood has proven to be lightweight and durable, and it is also an eco-friendly choice.

The satellite uses UPM Plywood’s WISA-Birch plywood, which has been processed and protected for use in space. The behavior of plywood in space will be studied using a measuring device developed by the European Space Agency, a sensor built in Estonia, and two cameras. One of the cameras is placed at the end of a selfie stick. The selfie stick will spring out from under the satellite when it enters space.

Test flight?

It is not a space flight, because the stratosphere is not yet space, but the conditions during the flight are very much like those in space: at an altitude of 30 kilometers most of the atmospheric air is below this point, the sun blazing from an almost pitch-black sky, and the Earth’s horizon is already clearly curved. You can’t get closer to space without actually going into space.

This test flight, approximately two hours long,  is done with a helium balloon. The helium balloon carrying the satellite will burst as planned when it reaches an altitude of around 30 kilometers. At this point, the air pressure outside the balloon has decreased so low that the rubber skin of the balloon can no longer withstand it.

After the balloon has burst, the test satellite will return to ground using a parachute. The landing location will depend on the wind conditions. The landing will not cause harm to any external parties. Images taken during the flight will be published in press releases and on the social media channels of the participating companies after the flight.

WISA Woodsat made its first similar test flight last June. Unlike during the first test flight, now, the satellite camera arm will be commanded to open during the flight. This is the most demanding test of the satellite and its systems to date.

After the test flight at Seinäjoki, the satellite will have to go through one final crucible before its official launch. In the final test, the satellite will be placed in a special space simulator, in which it will be exposed to the same vibration and space conditions as it will experience in the actual launch.

The actual satellite will be launched into orbit from New Zealand later this year; the exact time depends on the Rocket Lab's launch schedule.

Space to Seinäjoki!

The slogan of Seinäjoki “the capital of space” refers to open space, and there is plenty of that in the surrounding plains of the Pohjanmaa district. In Seinäjoki, there is plenty of space to grow, experience, and build the future. The balloon flight to test the satellite will expand this space upwards to the stratosphere and it will bring Seinäjoki into the space age.

During the balloon launch, the participants will be able to follow the preparations for the flight and get acquainted with space technology.

Later in the spring, if Covid restrictions permit it, Into Seinäjoki will organize a seminar together with technology company Huld, which also operates in the Seinäjoki area. In the seminar, there will be presentations for the entrepreneurs of Seinäjoki about the opportunities offered by the new era of space activity.

Jaakko Kaartinen of Huld, who works as a mechanical designer in the WISA Woodsat project, is involved in both the implementation of the test flight and the seminar. He is a Seinäjoki native and has done an essential part of the satellite design work in Seinäjoki.

More information

Jari Mäkinen, WISA Woodsat – Project Director, Arctic Astronautics Oy
040 5500198 /

Kevin Vainio, WISA Woodsat – Mechanical Project Manager, Huld
040 745 7100 /

Tapio Seppä-Lassila, Business Development Manager, Into Seinäjoki
040 5017350 /