STRaND-1 is the first smartphone-powered satellite launched into space
In case you haven’t noticed, smartphone have taken over the world and practically run our lives. Now they’re expanding their reach to space with a nano-satellite powered by a Google Nexus One that just launched into orbit.
The STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nano-satellite Demonstrator) is the first-ever smartphone-powered satellite to go in space. The aim of the mission will be to test if scientists can really use a smart device to power a satellite and take photos of space, and of course, to see if scientists can wirelessly upload apps to space.
(Angry Birds Space in space? Sure, why not?)
The STRaND-1 was launched with Linux-based system running the show. Eventually, the STRaND-1 team will attempt to hand over control to the smartphone to see if it can handle keeping the spacecraft in orbit as well as analyze all sensor data. The scientists will also use the phone camera to see what kind of photos of Earth it can produce, and they'll run a couple of “strictly scientific” apps on the phone, including Scream In Space, which plays back Earthling-uploaded videos of people screaming... in space.
STRaND-1 is a product of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the Surrey Space Center. Not only is it the first ever mission to put a smartphone in space, the STRaND-1 is also the United Kingdom’s first-ever CubeSat, measuring just 10 by 30 centimeters (4 by 12 inches) while weighing 4.3kg (9.4 pounds). Scientists will also use the satellite to test two experimental propulsion systems, including one that uses pulsed plasma thrusters and another called WARP DRiVE that uses a water-alcohol jet system.
If the mission is successful, we might see a lot more CubeSats launched into space that only need a consumer-grade smart device to power it instead of an expensive, custom computer system.