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Japan's LignoSat Space Wood Satellite And Dan Simmons' Treeship

Japan's LignoSat Space Wood Project is an attempt to create a satellite made of wood. Believe it or not, I think they're on to something, and they should think big. Really big.


(Fanciful LignoSat Space Wood Project [Jake Tobiyama])

...a small panel containing three different wood samples was launched to the ISS for stowage on the station's Japanese Experimental Kibo Module, where it was exposed to space for ten months in 2022. The wood panel was retrieved by JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and returned to Earth aboard SpaceX's CRS-26 cargo Dragon spacecraft in January 2023, and project scientists are hailing its success.

"Wood's ability to withstand simulated low earth orbit - or LEO - conditions astounded us," Koji Murata, head of the space-wood research effort, said in a 2021 press release. "We want to see if we can accurately estimate the effects of the harsh LEO environment on organic materials."

(Via Space.com.)

I hope that LignoSat, and all of its partners, press forward with this seemingly radical idea; a satellite is only the beginning. Science fiction authors can show you the way into the future.

In his award-winning 1989 novel Hyperion, Dan Simmons describes titanic treeships that are grown to move between the stars:

The Consul remembered his first glimpse of the kilometer-long treeship as he closed for rendezvous, the treeship's details blurred by the redundant machine and erg-generated containment fields which surrounded it like a spherical mist, but its leafy bulk clearly ablaze with thousands of lights which shone softly through leaves and thin-walled environment pods, or along countless platforms, bridges command decks, stairways and bowers. Around the base of the treeship, engineering and cargo spheres clustered like oversized galls while blue and violet streamers trailed behind like ten kilometer-long roots...
(Read more about treeships)

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