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NASA to launch $3,500 Google-powered smartphone as spacecraft

Last Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 19:19

London: NASA has unveiled a new project to create tiny and cheap satellites by using the insides of a mobile phone.
Called PhoneSat, it will use a specially modified Nexus S handset running Google’s Android software.

PhoneSat is designed to send the cheapest and easiest-to-construct satellites into orbit while running on Google’s Android operating system.

“Out of the box smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios,” the Daily Mail quoted NASA as saying.

Under the program, the space agency will be launching three smartphones into space, and take photos of the earth with its camera.

It will also be publishing the plans to allow anyone to create their own satellites.

According to, the initial test - PhoneSat 1.0 - cost about 3,500 dollars to construct and used a Nexus One smartphone.

NASA had issued a challenge in April to find the person who can deliver the most effective application for the PhoneSat to use.

While the app’s design will be mostly up to its creator, NASA insists that the app includes a star tracker, fire locator, altitude determination app and a radiation monitor.

Also important to the agency is a “single event upset (SEU) detector” app, which would increase the PhoneSat’s reliability.

According to NASA, three PhoneSat systems, will be sent into space by the Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket later this year.

Each phone will be contained in CubeSat, a four-inch metal box that will protect the smartphone as it orbits in space.


First Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 19:19
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