Weyerhaeusers Pioneer Square building reflecting on trees.
Weyerhaeuser's Pioneer Square building reflecting on trees. Charles Mudede

It's only a start, but Japan has a group of scientists and an old logging company working on the idea of making satellites out of wood. (The company, Sumitomo Forestry, was founded in 1691, long before the industrialization of the Japanese economy during the Meiji era.)

Scientists and engineers would build a wooden box to contain the satellite's telecommunication processors, boards, and chips. The problem the material would help solve is the crisis of junk in the part of the sky where our atmosphere is diminished by the vacuum of space, which is not made of nothing but rather is an active medium of quantum events that some call "the aether." The junk is usually made of nuts and bolts that hold together titanium and aluminum frames, which don't burn to ashes and dust upon reentering the dense atmosphere as wood would.

There's more to this wood idea:

It’s not just the environmental concept — wood also has some distinct advantages compared to other materials. For instance, it doesn’t block electromagnetic waves or the Earth’s magnetic field, meaning that it doesn’t affect sensors or antennas placed inside a wooden box in any way. This would alleviate some of the design problems with modern satellites.

The hope is to launch the first wooden satellite in a future that's much closer to us than the opening of a light rail station in Ballard, 2023.

We can also expect this program to be of great interest to Weyerhaeuser Company, a timber corporation based in the old heart of Seattle, Pioneer Square.

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Indeed, connecting wood products with space telecommunication systems would have the symbolic force of a Weyerhaeuser and Boeing reunification. History Link:

William Edward Boeing started his professional life as a lumberman and ended as a real-estate developer and horse breeder, but in between he founded the company that brought forth important breakthroughs in the field of aviation technology and the airline business. The Boeing Airplane Company became one of the signature corporations of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest and dominated the regional economy for most of the twentieth century.

This kind of satellite—the bonding of Weyerhaeuser materials with Boeing tech—would make a star of the industrial and extractive modes of capitalism that have defined the history of Pacific Northwest capitalism.

And why shouldn't we dream a little at this point? The day is nothing but the ugliest of clouds. The rain is miserable. Let's leave this dreariness for a moment and let the Time Machine of the Imagination transport us like Carl Sagan's Spaceship of the Imagination to the spring of the final year of the decade we recently entered.

At this time, Boeing has long sold all of its local properties and fully relocated to South Carolina (let's say around 2025). And the clear night sky is filled with Weyerhaeuser's woody stars, which connect earth-bound humans like mycorrhizal networks connect the trees deep in a temperate rain forest. What a strange place this other Seattle is. On the ground, it's surrounded by the ghosts of a dead aerospace industry, and above it floats the ghosts of a Pacific Northwest forest.