# Aerodynamics of a piece of paper.............

#### Funkworks

##### Low Earth Orbit, obstructing Earth's view of Venus
I wonder how big is the biggest paper airplane ever built so far. Suppose the criteria are:

1. Starting with a single sheet having any dimensions.
2. The only allowed steps are manual bendings of the sheet.

#### dr wogz

##### Fly caster

I remember a 'makes you think' question from a number of years ago:

for the argument:
The ISS has a room / module the size of a small high school gym (yeah, I know.. for the argument remember..)
And one of the ISS team decided to make a paper airplane (a typical one, your choice)
They launch / toss it in the large room / module..

What is the flight path of the paper plane?

What if they brought & tossed a free-flight balsa & tissue plane? (They built a Gullow's kit during their 6 month stay..) Or a rubber band powered stick & tissue plane?

#### OverTheTop

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
It would likely hit the "ceiling", whichever way that was at launched, unless the wings are set to zero AoA. On Earth they need some AoA to provide lift, against gravity, but not in space.

Any dihedral used for stabilisation would be ineffective in microgravity also, so it would likely roll during flight.

#### BABAR

##### Builds Rockets for NASA
TRF Supporter

I remember a 'makes you think' question from a number of years ago:

for the argument:
The ISS has a room / module the size of a small high school gym (yeah, I know.. for the argument remember..)
And one of the ISS team decided to make a paper airplane (a typical one, your choice)
They launch / toss it in the large room / module..

What is the flight path of the paper plane?

What if they brought & tossed a free-flight balsa & tissue plane? (They built a Gullow's kit during their 6 month stay..) Or a rubber band powered stick & tissue plane?
Under zero G or microgravity, likely best design for distance would be a high mass low diameter 3 fin rocket shaped design. I initially thought a wadded up ball, as dense as possible, but rather than a sphere, a rocket shape with just enough fins for stability would likely give you highest mass and lowest drag. Neutral taped fin airfoils would help.

of course, if you step outside, with no gravity and no atmosphere (I guess technically not true, the exosphere goes out to 6200 miles, and the ISS is ONLY 254 miles up) it doesn’t matter because there is almost no atmosphere at all.

Apollo moon feather and hammer demo

#### justforfun

##### TRA 684, Cert Level-3
TRF Supporter
I remembered this.

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