You have probably heard references to the fact that today’s smartphones contain way more computing power and capability than what was available to the world’s space programs back during the heyday of the space race. That saying is close to getting a test when the Surrey Space Centre and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) launch the British-built Strand-1 satellite into space later this month. At the heart of Strand-1 lies a Google Nexus One smartphone which the project team hopes will be able to take over full control of the satellite at some point during the six-month mission.
Dr. Chris Bridges, a lead engineer for the project, says the Nexus One has not been physically modified in any way. It is a regular, consumer electronics grade device loaded with the project’s software and then plugged in via a USB port. For the first portion of the mission, the device will be relegated to taking pictures of the earth and moon, similar to past Android device space adventures. Once various tests are completed, the project team plans to turn over control of the satellite to the Nexus One, a first for a smartphone. Along with running the satellite, the Nexus One will also run various apps, like a Scream in Space app developed by Cambridge University students in response to a call for apps.
Doug Liddle, the SSTL head of science, does not predict the use of everyday phones as the core of a multi-million dollar satellite. However, he does think components of the hardware can be effectively used during space flight. He also thinks the open source philosophy used for development of Android apps might be something that could be incorporated into the space program.
source: BBC News