It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh, wait, it IS a plane.

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This news story made the rounds many months ago, but I didn’t read of it until I was paring down my Inbox this week (1388 messages. It was getting a little overwhelming) and found it in a news digest. In late March, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency accepted a proposal of a project led by Shinji Suzuki to make origami spacecrafts and launch them from the International Space Station. How cool is that?

One worry is that they would burn up because friction from entering the atmosphere tends to make things rather hot, but it’s possible/likely that they won’t both because of their shape and because they will be traveling so slowly through the atmosphere (plus the paper, made from sugar canes, is heat resistant). When I first read this I envisioned Giant Origami Planes, but they’re actually small: the shuttles will only be 8 inches by 4 inches after folding, and weigh just over an ounce.

Another worry is that there is no way of controlling where they land, or even how to track them. This is a much bigger deal, and perhaps one reason they’re not going with the Giant Origami I’d envisioned (can you imagine if one of those swooped down onto your lawn?). But don’t go looking too soon: the grant they received is for 3 years of feasibility studies.

While you’re waiting, you can learn how to make an Origami Rocket.

I read this story in many places, but got most of the info for here from Discovery News.

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