World's First Smartphone-Powered Satellite Launched Into Space

Pulkit Chandna

The STRaND-1 nanosatellite carries a Google Nexus One

At a time when the who’s who of the mobile world are busy strutting their stuff at the Mobile World Congress , Surrey Space Centre (University of Surrey) and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) Ltd are celebrating a mobile launch of their own. Except that theirs was unlike any other cellphone launch in history — a launch in the most literal sense.

The two Surrey, England-based organizations now have the distinction of designing the world’s first smartphone-powered satellite, the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training Research and Nanosatellite Demonstration-1), which was successfully launched into orbit aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on Monday, along with several other payloads. In doing so, they have beaten the mighty NASA, which announced similar plans last year , to the punch.

Dubbed the world’s first “Phonesat”, the STRaND-1 carries a Google Nexus One, a new Linux-based high-speed CubeSat computer and attitude & orbit control system, and two propulsion systems. According to a joint press release issued by the SSC and SSTL ,the 7.7-lb satellite will initially be controlled by the Linux-based CubeSat computer, with the Android-powered taking over the reigns of the nanosatellite’s in-orbit operations during the second phase of the mission.

Besides being given control of some of the satellite's key system functions during the second phase, the phone will be used to collect scientific data and snap photos of the Earth.

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