Fundamental research on the usability of timbers in space

Project Gist

Experimental study on the usability of timber in space in order to support the expansion of humanity into space

Keywords

Space Utilization, Timber Industry, Vacuum Environment, Wooden Satellite, Human Space Activities

Background and Purpose

The purpose of this research project is to investigate the usability of timber in space. Humanity has been able to survive and build the current civilization in part due to the use of timber. Now we are ready to expand into space and are facing an important challenge of how we can obtain resources in space. If we can grow trees and utilize wood, this will help us solve the important problem of finding resources in space. The success of this research project could result in changing the current direction of space development which relies heavily on metal resources and thus, direct us to a new development of our civilization.

Project Achievements

We observed changes of the physical properties of various kinds of wood exposed in a vacuum environment of one hundred thousandth of atmospheric pressure for more than six months. The trees we used are two coniferous trees: (cedar and cypress) and three hardwood trees (satinwood, magnolia obovata, and zelkova). All of them showed very stable elasticity during the experimental period. We  found out that the a vacuum does not cause deterioration of the physical characteristics of these kinds of trees. Based on these results, we have proposed a wooden satellite which would contaminate neither space nor the Earth’s stratosphere and oceans. The wooden satellite would allow us to utilize the near Earth orbital space eternally without any ill effects.

Future Prospects

We plan to form a research team to design a wooden satellite which will investigate the effects of a space environment on wooden materials in 2019. The team will consist of students, researchers and companies. The team will work on building the engineering model and conduct ground testing. After building the flight model, we would like to launch and operate it by the mid 2020s.

Figure

Variation of elasticity of various kinds of wood exposed in a vacuum environment
Variation of elasticity of various kinds of wood exposed in a vacuum environment

Principal Investigator

DOI Takao

・DOI Takao
・Unit of Synergetic Sturdies for Space
・He flew in space two times. He became the first Japanese person to conduct a space walk in 1997 and also attached the Japanese experiment module Kibo to the International Space Station in 2008. He has been working as a professor of Human Spaceology at Kyoto University since 2016.