Origami and Spaceships?

Michelle Montalvo-Hernandez
Michelle Montalvo-Hernandez’s origami crane

Ever wondered how NASA makes their space crafts or how idea details may come into play? NASA is developing new ideas to make a space radiator that is purely based on origami. How will they pull this task off? Will it work to launch potential satellites into space? 

NASA is a United States government agency responsible for innovative ideas related to air and space in science and technology. They make satellites that help scientists learn more about Earth, other planets, and even galaxies. They’ve even been working on sending more humans to explore the moon and Mars. 

Even with all of this advanced technology, NASA is now looking to ancient arts as a part of their latest thing. According to Lori Keesey’s “NASA’s New Shape-Shifting Radiator Inspired by Origami,” published on Jan. 31, 2017 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration Japan’s art of paper folding is helping researchers with the design of satellites that are launched into space. 

While there are more than 17,000 people that work for NASA,  Astronauts only represent a small number of employees other jobs range from secretaries and writers to lawyers and teachers. Their latest employees are researchers and a doctoral student at Brigham Young University in Utah, who are trying to see how an unconventional radiator would be able to fold and unfold similar to the way that paper can be folded with origami. Scientists are hoping to advance the design of radiators used in satellites so that heat can be removed or retained. 

Brian Iverson, an assistant professor at BYU has collaborated with doctoral student Rydge Mulford to make a design of a three-dimensional foldable radiator. Dwivedi is developing a coating to enhance the radiator’s heat-shedding or conservation capabilities. Mulford explained that origami paper folding in the lab allows scientists to see heat loss in real-time, that deep folds allow for greater absorption of heat. What they are doing with the models in the lab can be applied to the construction of satellites. 

Although the trios’ plan might be perfect for an average student or engineer, they want to bump their concept up. 

NASA researchers like Dwivedi say that this approach will be a game-changer in thermal design, replacing traditional radiators with dynamic ones, all done with something as simple as origami.