Do Boomerangs Work in Space? Ask a Japanese Astronaut!
Can a boomerang do in zero gravity what boomerangs do down here on Earth? We're going to find out! Takeo Doi intends to test the theory once he arrives at the new, Japanese-made "Kibo" science module on a scheduled mission this March. You see, spaceflight isn't all rocket science!
Doi will be following in the footsteps of another Japanese astro-fun pioneer, Mamoru Mori. As Japan's first astronaut to reach Earth orbit, Mori claimed a place in orbital out-there-ness by flying a paper airplane inside the space shuttle on his 1992 flight. And, as related in a recent article of mine, a Japanese team is planning to fly a paper airplane back to Earth from the ISS. Lest one think the Japanese have cornered the market on space silliness, I'll mention here that Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang flew a Frisbee inside the ISS during his 2006 visit. Yes, both airplane and Frisbee flew flawlessly.
Throwing a boomerang in space isn't as dangerous as it might seem. As an aerodynamic object, a boomerang thrown FROM the ISS would not circle around to break a shuttle tile, bonk a space-walking astronaut on the helmet or lodge itself in the hull of the space station -- it would keep on going in whichever direction it was thrown.
Inside the station and acted upon by air, however, it's likely the boomerang would indeed return to sender.
In fact, without gravity tugging on it, it's possible the boomerang will continue to circle for some time, unless it bumps into something. Keep your heads down, guys! I should mention that this particular boomerang is made of paper so that it won't knock out a window or worse (what could be worse??)... these ARE rocket scientists, after all! (via Mainichi News and CBC, main image via Rense.com)
Japanese Innovations Writer