Origami in Space! (VIDEO)
Well, More Accurately, Getting Stuff into Space Using Origami
In working to solve the always pressing issue of how to get more off the planet as compactly and lightly as possible - factors which directly affect the size, weight, and therefore cost & general doability of a given launch project - a research team led by Brigham Young University (BYU) have found an answer in the ancient Japanese art form of origami.
In collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and with consultation from one of the world’s foremost origami experts, the team is engineering foldable solar power arrays that, for example, can be rocketed into orbit in a compartment 10 times smaller than the eventual deployed size. We hope it goes without saying, but obviously the spacefairing origami will not be shaped like the iconic cranes or other animal forms we've all seen before. Alas.
Art and Ideas Without Borders
Interestingly, the origami expert who consulted on the project, Robert J. Lang, is not Japanese - he's an American physicist. And that's helpful, because complex, engineering-focused, and these days, often CAD-modeled origami requires all kinds of math skills and a big brain.
That a non-Japanese expert was consulted should not seem out of place or anomalous; rather, along with certain design aesthetics, fashion, anime, manga, and a whole host of electronics innnovations and karate and ninjas and cosplay & stuff, we see this as a yet another example of the massive impact a culture comprising only 1.8% of the human population continues to have on all 7 billion of us.
You go, origami!
• • •
Images: NASA, Wikimedia, AkihabaraNews.com