Android phone blasts into space aboard satellite

A 2010-vintage HTC Nexus One is the brains of a satellite launched into orbit Monday by the Indian Space Research Organization, dubbed STRaND-1.

STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), which weighs around 8 pounds, is the brainchild of UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, which designed the satellite both as a way to gauge how consumer-grade electronics would perform in space and to demonstrate pulsed-plasma thruster use on similar "nanosatellites."

According to SSTL, the Android phone aboard STRaND-1 will run apps that will collect scientific data, take pictures of Earth using its on-board 5-megapixel camera, and even control some satellite functions. Temperature monitoring will prompt the device to run load-intensive programs, heating the CPU and avoiding a frozen battery.

Along with its serious purposes, STRaND-1 will run an app called Scream in Space, which will put the long-held saying, "in space, no one can hear you scream" to the test by playing user-submitted videos and listening for any emitted sound.

SSTL didn't provide an exact unit cost, but said STRaND-1 is only a little more expensive than a "high-end family car."

Nexus One

The Nexus One won't take over for a couple of weeks, according to SSTL, as scientists on the ground verify that everything else aboard the satellite is working. Until the switchover, STRaND-1 is being controlled by the satellite's altitude control system and a Linux-based CubeSat computer.

STRaND-1 is one of six commercial payloads launched into orbit by the ISRO's PSLV-C20 mission, along with its primary cargo, the joint French-Indian oceanographic research satellite SARAL. There is, as yet, no word of a competing iPhone-powered satellite project, although both the iPhone and other Android-powered devices have already been carried into space by intrepid astronauts.

Related:
Shop ▾
arrow up Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.

Subscribe to the Best of PCWorld Newsletter

Comments