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It Came From Outer Space

By on May 1, 2008
RoadKing Mag

Who hasn’t experienced the joy of creating the perfect paper airplane, carefully folding, creasing, adjusting, and then watching in wonder as it soared? Well the folks at the Japan Origami Airplane Association are aiming for ultimate hang time. Working with researchers from the University of Tokyo, the paper-folding enthusiasts want to launch a paper plane from the International Space Station, hoping it will land on Earth — about 200 miles straight down.

A prototype using paper chemically treated to withstand intense heat was tested. It lasted six seconds.

But even if an indestructible origami plane can be created, will the idea itself actually fly? A spokesman from NASA was dubious, noting that no official proposal for launching the paper airplanes has been submitted, and the presenters would need to show a scientific purpose for the launch. “It’s just a concept that has been presented to the Japanese space agency,” the spokesman says.

Still, the researchers are determined to get their glider into space. “We think from this experiment we will be able to create new concepts and in the very near future perhaps new types of airships from the design,” Professor Shinichi Suzuki, one of the university researchers, told the BBC. To increase the odds of a plane making the entire journey intact, the research team wants to send out at least 100 gliders.

And each will carry a message, written in numerous languages, asking that anyone who finds the plane please return it to the Japan Origami Airplane Association.

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