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Date: 2018-05-13

Here is how NASA uses origami to design spacecraft 2

Here is how NASA uses origami to design spacecraft 3

The Japanese tradition of paper-folding, called Origami, has inspired a number of unique spacecraft designs.

NASA is using origami to build a giant star blocker, in hopes of imaging distant worlds. What looks good on paper may look good in space, and this allows scientists to pack more technology into smaller space-bound packages.

It’s little wonder that it fascinates NASA engineers: origami can seem deceptively simple, hiding complex math within its creases. Besides its aesthetic beauty, it addresses a persistent problem faced by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible?

With most origami, the magic comes from the folding. You can’t design purely from geometry. You need to know the qualities of the material to understand how it will fold.

We could see space origami very soon. Starshades are one promising application: these miniaturised satellites are the size of a briefcase, and NASA will launch several key missions using these modular spacecraft in coming years. Because they require so little space, mass and cost, they’re easier to launch.


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