Posted by T. Michael Testi
Written By MARI YAMAGUCHI
Associated Press Writer
KASHIWA, Japan (AP) -- Japanese scientists and origami masters hope to launch a paper airplane from space and learn from its trip back to Earth.
It's no joke. A prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel this month, Japan's space agency adopted it Wednesday for feasibility studies, and a well-known astronaut is interested in participating.
A successful flight from space by an origami plane could have far-reaching implications for the design of re-entry vehicles or space probes for upper atmospheric exploration, said project leader Shinji Suzuki, a professor at Tokyo University's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Suzuki said he was skeptical a decade ago when he first discussed with experts the idea of sending into space a craft made in the tradition of Japan's ancient art of paper folding.