WISA Woodsat to make a test flight from Seinäjoki

Seinäjoki will reach out into space in February as the technology company Huld and Arctic Astronautics send a test version of the WISA Woodsat satellite to visit the stratosphere. Seinäjoki, as the capital of the Pohjanmaa district, famous for its open space and plains, is a natural 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 9th of 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 carried out using a gas-filled balloon. The helium balloon carrying the satellite will burst as planned when it reaches an altitude of 30 kilometers. At this point, the air pressure drops so low that the rubber material of the balloon can no longer withstand. After the balloon has burst, the test satellite will return to earth using a parachute. The landing area 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 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 satellite test 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.

A picture taken from WISA Woodsat’s previous test flight in June 2021.

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 /  jari@kitsat.fi

Kevin Vainio, WISA Woodsat – Mechanical Project Manager, Huld
040 745 7100 / kevin.vainio@huld.io

Tapio Seppä-Lassila, Business Development Manager, Into Seinäjoki
040 5017350 / tapio.seppa-lassila@intoseinajoki.fi