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 ")

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.

 

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

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

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.