What happened to the Seinäjoki satellite?

In February we had some exciting moments in the “capitol of space”. The mayor of Seinäjoki city, Jaakko Kiiskilä, launched the prototype of the world’s first wooden satellite, WISA Woodsat, on a test flight from Lakeudenpuisto park in Seinäjoki. The test flight was 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. The actual satellite will be launched into orbit from New Zealand later this year.

The purpose of the test flight was to test the functions of the satellite components in space-like conditions. The stratosphere is not quite space but it’s as close as you can get without actually going into space. The stratosphere begins at altitudes of approximately 15 kilometers and can reach altitudes of up to 65 kilometers.

The test flight was a success – but what happened then?

The launch of the satellite was successfully carried out in freezing temperatures with the sun shining from clear skies. The satellite reached the stratosphere and the camera boom, which was also one of the subjects of the test, was deployed as expected. The helium balloon carrying the satellite exploded at an altitude of just over 30 kilometers. Then the satellite descended down to earth with a parachute.

During the descent, a strong wind carried the satellite towards Kuopio in Central Finland, as was anticipated from the weather forecasts. Despite the backup tracking device, unfortunately the connection to the satellite was lost at the end of the test flight.

”The test flight was a success even though the exact landing location is not yet known. We are especially pleased with how the other aspects of the test flight went and also with the fact that we were able to better control the satellite and for a longer time than expected”, says Huld mechanical designer Jaakko Kaartinen. Kaartinen was a part of the team designing the WISA Woodsat camera boom.

”Luckily, a real space flight is easier to monitor because the satellite is always in a certain location. There is also more time for communication with a real flight”, continues Kaartinen.

Looking to New Zealand

This year, the final satellite will be launched into space from New Zealand. The exact launch schedule is still impossible to determine, as the dates depend on the permit bureaucracy and the flight plans of the party responsible for the launch.

“The satellite and the 3D printed camera boom are almost ready to go. We’re very excited and we are enthusiastically waiting for the actual launch”, concludes Kaartinen.

Watch the video to see how WISA Woodsat’s final test flight went: