December 29, 2008

Paper Airplaines...FROM SPAAAACE!!!

How on Earth did I miss this?
The Pink Tentacle brings us this neat story from March on what is the ultimate egg drop ( but with no egg involved).

Japanese scientists and origami masters hope to launch a paper airplane from space and learn from its trip back to Earth.

This seems like it could be doable. The fact that these are made of paper should give them light enough wing loading. OTOH they will still be traveling at suborbital velocity when they begin to hit the sensible atmosphere, the light loading might not be enough.

Of course we won't know till we try! 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 109 words, total size 1 kb.

1 I'm certain you heard about JP Aerospace's Ascender system which involves a huge balloon going up and down to orbit. In general, the fluffier the vehicle is (the lower the cross-section load is), the less thermal load is. JP's balloon does not have a TPS. I do think though, it might be fluffier than any conceivable paper airplane.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Dec 30 00:56:41 2008 (/ppBw)

2 It's a nice thought, but their paper airplanes would hit the atmosphere at Mach 24 and would burn up, just like any other small space junk that hits the atmosphere. Paper isn't strong enough to stand up to that kind of stress.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Tue Dec 30 13:59:53 2008 (+rSRq)

3 If they renamed the origami airplane into a Low Cross-Load Re-Entry Vehicle and declared it not made out of paper, but of Carbon-Carbon Composite, the naysayers would suffer a crushing blow.

I bet Steven hasn't run any numbers on the balance of the thermal load as the airplane enters the higher atmosphere.

Like I said previously, the biggest risk is that anything built of paper might be too dense and would indeed burn up unless it's some kind of a huge paper balloon or a ballute. An "airplane" presumes a structural shape with dense beams or a truss.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun Jan 4 15:44:19 2009 (/ppBw)

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