All those grade-schoolers zinging paper airplanes at their teachers' backs may actually be on to something. In November, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will send a paper airplane soaring through space to see if it can survive the descent to Earth, the World Aeronautical Press Agency reports.
Aeronautical engineers at the University of Tokyo are hoping their endeavor will lead to a new form of space flight.
The 7.8-inch plane will be treated with chemical agents to prevent it from bursting into flames. According to the report, tests performed in a wind gallery suggest it could be successful.
"With this experiment we will try to study a new model of space airplane," said professor Shinji Suzuki, the lead engineer on the experiment, reportedly inspired by the Japanese paper-folding art of origami, specifically an idea from Takuo Toda of the Japan Origami Plane Association.
The plane will launch from the international space station and is expected to reach a speed of Mach 20.