Android Smartphone to Control Satellite in Orbit
A satellite with an Android smartphone at its heart is now orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 785 kilometres. Called STRaND-1, the satellite’s incorporation of a Google Nexus One phone is a bold attempt to test the how well cheap, off-the-shelf consumer electronics handle the harsh temperature variations and microchip-blasting cosmic radiation of space.
If it can, say the satellite’s makers - Surrey Satellite Technology and the Surrey Space Centre based at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK - such spacecraft could become a lot cheaper to make. The orbiting phone was bought from a shop in Guildford’s High Street.
The phonesat lifted off at 12.32 GMT yesterday aboard an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Shriharikota, India. The rocket carried small satellites from India, France, Canada, the UK, Denmark and Austria. One of the two Canadian spacecraft was the suitcase-sized asteroid-spotter NEOSat, short for Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite, which will watch out for incoming rocks like the one that came out of nowhere and exploded over Russia on 15 February.