From space on.... origami paperplane???


Multiuniversal creator
13 February 2006
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Researchers from the University of Tokyo have teamed up with members of the Japan Origami Airplane Association to develop a paper aircraft capable of surviving the flight from the International Space Station to the Earth’s surface.

The researchers are scheduled to begin testing the strength and heat resistance of an 8 centimeter (3.1 in) long prototype on January 17 in an ultra-high-speed wind tunnel at the University of Tokyo’s Okashiwa campus (Chiba prefecture). In the tests, the origami glider — which is shaped like the Space Shuttle and has been treated to withstand intense heat — will be subjected to wind speeds of Mach 7, or about 8,600 kilometers (5,300 miles) per hour.

A large spacecraft such as the Space Shuttle can reach speeds of up to Mach 20 (over 15,200 mph) when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and friction with the air heats the outer surface to extreme temperatures. The much lighter origami aircraft, which the researchers claim will come down more slowly, is not expected to burn up on re-entry.

No launch date has been set for the paper spaceplane, but Shinji Suzuki, an aerospace engineering professor at the University of Tokyo, is thinking ahead. “We hope the space station crew will write a message of peace on the plane before they launch it,” says Suzuki. “We don’t know where in the world the plane will land, but we hope that whoever finds it will contact us.”

Okay, lets say that it is the cheapest way to get out from there :D
Advanced paper airplane seem to be a Japanese habit. In 2002, Dr. Takashi Yabe (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering and Science)
flew in his lab the first ever, laser driven paper airplane. Initial propellant was an ignited drop of water for a few meters "glide" after impulse. A lot of conference material is referenced on Dr Yabe's website and I have most ISBEP proceedings.

As to a combination of both subjects, why not fancy in a distant future some sort of hypersonic suborbital boost-glide swarm of stealth papercraft for recce, strike mission, swerving under the repetitive impulse of distant, LEO-based laser source. Okay, crazy concept : target acquisition will be hard. Tracking, almost impossible. Not to speak of thermal blooming and papercraft frying up in those conditions. Just a crazy idea...
It seems to me the whole purpose behind the project is just to allow for a message to be dropped from the ISS for some random person back on Earth to pick up as a symbolic peace/hope for the future/blah blah blah gesture. The Japanese are also real big into that.
Now Ray, whilst that may be the primary goal, the secondary goal will be stating how unique Japan is, what with it's Origami Paper RVs. Engineering goals will be a distant third, of course ;D
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