A company from Japan, in collaboration with Kyoto University, is developing the world’s first satellites made out of wood, and they hope to achieve the feat by 2023. The partnership will begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth. Space junk is becoming an increasing problem as more satellites are launched into the atmosphere. Wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth.

Not only would wooden satellites be better for the environment, but they could also allow for new and simpler designs if used to make a craft’s outer shell. This is because electromagnetic signals pass more easily through the wood — meaning that antennas could be placed within, rather than outside, the satellite body. The Japanese team of experts have said that they hope to have their first wooden satellite ready to launch into space by the year 2023.

Researchers will attempt to understand how wood performs in extreme environments on our planet, and then extrapolate their findings to create the first of its kind wood satellite. With satellites being launched at a mindblowing pace, space junk continues to remain a major issue. Many countries around the globe are trying to understand how to deal with space junk, which is clogging up the atmosphere and poses a risk of collision in space between satellites.

Satellites are increasingly being used for communication, television, navigation and weather forecasting. Space experts and researchers have been investigating different options to remove and reduce the space junk. Nearly 6,000 satellites are circling Earth, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). About 60% of them are defunct (space junk). Research firm Euroconsult estimates that 990 satellites will be launched every year this decade, which means that by 2028, there could be 15,000 satellites in orbit.