Japan To Reboot Space Program With Paper Airplanes

I really don't know what to make of this story. University of Tokyo "researchers" and members of the Japanese Origami Airplane Association are trying to develop a paper "spaceplane" able to survive the flight back from the ISS to the Earth.

If that doesn't seem ridiculous enough, the prototype being tested in an "ultra-high-speed wind tunnel" at the University of Tokyo’s Okashiwa campus is a mere 3.1 inches long. What, they couldn't afford to spring for a full sheet of paper? I guess it was a little snarky of me to run down their wind tunnel, since it is able to subject test items to 5,300 mile per hour winds.

However, I find myself wondering if a paper airplane could even be subjected to 5,300 mph winds anywhere but in a wind tunnel. I'm thinking that the terminal velocity of a paper airplane is about twenty miles per hour.

In fact, I'm wondering if a paper airplane tossed out the airlock on the ISS would even fall to Earth at all. I also think that if they do it, they should drop a few thousand of them, just to make sure you could even find one of them later. I wonder if NASA has any time-motion studies of astronauts doing origami in zero-gee. Probably not.

It turns out that you can find anything on Internet video - I don't know if they are actually going to make an origami Space Shuttle, but now you can.


(Origami space shuttle video)

SF writers have been thinking about dropping stuff out the airlock (and have it fall all the way to Earth safely) for quite a while; here's Doc Smith at work in 1934. This is actually a very early reference to the idea of ablative heat shielding.

Back toward the trailing edges then, to a small escape-hatch beside which was fastened a dull black ball... He gasped as the air rushed out into near-vacuum... He rolled the ball out onto the hatch, where he opened it: two hinged hemispheres, each heavily padded with molded composition resembling sponge rubber...
(Read more about Doc Smith's ablative heat shield)

Via Origami spaceplane to launch from space station.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/16/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.' Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'

Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.