Hi there!

I’m an Assistant Professor in the Aero/Astro department at Stanford University, and I lead the Morphing Space Structures Lab. Previously, I was a technologist and space origami engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for NASA by Caltech. I develop technologies for the next generation of spacecraft structures that need to be folded up for launch and then unfolded once in space.

Photo credit: Sarah Reingewirtz

In my free time, I photograph things, produce origami-inspired sculptures, and produce and act in theater shows (though that last one has taken a back seat in the past few years).

Here’s my CV. Email me at manan.arya at stanford.edu or manan.arya at gmail.com; follow me on Mastodon at spacemanan at mastodon.online.

Credit for the photograph above goes to Sarah Reingewirtz.


I work on the packaging and deployment of spacecraft structures. To fit inside launch vehicles, many large spacecraft structures need to be packaged. Once in space, they need to be deployed. I design ways of folding these thin, large-area structures, and study how they unfold once in space. A particular focus is to use origami as a point of inspiration to design ways of folding large-areas structures (such as antennas, photovoltaic arrays, sunshields, and solar sails).

Complete list of my publications at my lab website or at my Google Scholar page. Feel free to email me for a copy of any of these papers.

Here are some videos of lectures I’ve given and experiments I’ve been involved in:

I’ve collected some notable large-area deployable space structures in a (occasionally updated) chart here.

In The News

How origami can help in space exploration, Krysia Collyer, Global News, October 2023.

The Future is Folded, Maya Wei-Haas, National Geographic Magazine, February 2023. Cover image.

An engineer uses an ancient art to solve a very modern problem, Fernanda Ferreira, Stanford Engineering, 18 July 2022.

To Study the Next Earth, NASA May Need to Throw Some Shade, Chris Wright, WIRED Magazine, 4 January 2022.

How Origami Is Revolutionizing Industrial Design, Jim Morrison, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 April 2019.

Ancient Origami Art Becomes Engineers’ Dream in Space, Elizabeth Lee, Voice of America, 26 October 2017.

How the ancient art of origami is inspiring NASA’s new technologies, Jason Henry, Pasadena Star-News, 4 October 2017.

What Looks Good on Paper May Look Good In Space, Andrew Good, JPL News, 22 September 2017.

Starshade & Eclipses, Robert Picardo, The Planetary Post, 31 July 2017.

Origami… in Space!, Caltech Breakthrough Campaign, 26 April 2017.

Into the Fold, Diana W. Thompson, Verso: The Blog of the Huntington Library, 4 April 2016.