Origami reentry vehicle

PaperplaneI’m intrigued by this report that members of the Japan Origami Airplane Association are working to develop a 3 inch paperplane that they’re hoping will handle reentry and land somewhere on Earth after being launched from the space station.

That would make for the longest paperplane flight ever!

6 thoughts on “Origami reentry vehicle”

  1. Huh. So how does it survive? The article says it’s treated paper, and that it will slow down much faster than the space shuttle due to its low weight. But how fast will it end up going in the atmosphere? I guess paper has a terminal velocity.

  2. ‘Everything has a terminal velocity’


    It’s been awhile since physics. Does everything have the same terminal velocity? In a vacuum, they do, right? But how about in an atmosphere?

  3. In a nutshell:
    In an atmosphere, terminal velocity is the result of the ratio of surface area of the object (which determines the amount of friction with the surrounding atmosphere) to the object’s mass (how much stuff the atmospheric friction must slow down to a terminal velocity). So in an atmosphere, objects of different shapes and masses have different terminal velocities, which is why a parachute works– large, cupped surface area, low mass.
    In space, since there is no atmosphere, you could say that the terminal velocity of all objects is infinitely close to the speed of light.

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