This has to be the dream of every kid and adult on Earth: Make a paper plane and throw it from orbit. Well, there's one lucky Japanese astronaut who is going to get nine of them, a paper space shuttle fleet which will go up to the International Space Station. Then, they will be dropped from orbit into a 400km, two-day flight to the ground. If you are thinking that these origami spacecrafts won't be able to resist the re-entry, think again: They can sustain Mach 7 speeds (8,500kph) and 200-degree Celsius temperatures.
Of course, these are no ordinary paper planes. Each of the 35 x 22cm 28 gram space shuttles are made with a special paper, treated with chemical products to allow it to resist such temperatures. The shuttles were tested in a hypersonic wind tunnel at the beginning of the year and, if everything goes well, they will make the trip to Kibo, the Japanese ISS module, on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in February.
Once they reach their destination, astronaut Dr. Koichi Wakata will then throw them in their voyage either by hand or using Dextre, the gigantic robotic arm on the ISS.
If they are lucky, they will reach populated areas, where they can be picked and returned to Japan's space agency. Hopefully for money, because if I got one of these from the ISS, I would keep it or sell it on eBay. [Asahi via Pink Tentacle]