New Scientist reports on Japanese space scientists creating origami that’s out of this world:
The origami space plane will be a similar design, Suzuki says, but only about 20 centimetres long and with a rounded nose to minimize aerodynamic heating.
It will also be chemically processed to incorporate silicon in the paper structure, increasing its heat resistance….
When released from the International Space Station, it would be travelling at Mach 20, Suzuki says, but thanks to a large surface area and low weight it should slow considerably as it falls through the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.
A smaller prototype paper plane was tested up to Mach 7 and about 200 °C in a hypersonic wind tunnel in Tokyo last week.
Shinji Suzuki, of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Tokyo, is now working on creating a tiny, ultra-light tracking device so he can find his paper airplane once it makes it back to Earth.
More origami spaceplane coverage at Mainichi Daily News.