MAR 25, 2018 8:03 PM PDT

How NASA Integrates Origami Into Spacecraft

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Origami is an ancient Japanese art involving paper-folding, but we can attribute it to so much more than just paper. NASA knows this first-hand and taps into origami techniques to shrink massive spacecraft down to the ideal size for rocket-based transportation.

The Starshade is just one example of an origami-based project that's being undertaken at NASA this very moment. The Starshade is a massive folding shade that sets up in front of a space telescope as it searches for exoplanets. It blocks light from the host star, enabling the telescope's optics to snag clearer exoplanet images and discern finer details in the process.

Unfolded, the Starshade would compare in size to a baseball diamond. But folded, the Starshade could comfortably fit inside the cramped quarters of a rocket fairing, allowing NASA to send it to space for deployment.

Origami doesn't stop at the Sunshade; this is a concept that can apply to most things NASA does. It will allow the space agency to develop new ways of sending larger and more powerful equipment into space despite current cargo size constraints, and this is something that can seriously help push humankind's footprint in outer space forward.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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