Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Smartphone launched into space

The British built Strand-1 spacecraft which is carrying a smartphone, has been launched into space
The British built Strand-1 spacecraft which is carrying a smartphone, has been launched into space

A miniature satellite carrying a smartphone has been launched into space.

The British-built Strand-1 spacecraft, developed by scientists in Surrey, was sent into orbit from Sriharikota in India.

Known as "phonesat", the device is the first off-the-shelf smartphone to be sent out of the earth's atmosphere, where it will orbit the planet in synchronisation with the sun at 488 miles (785km).

Scientists from the University of Surrey's Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) are testing how gadgets that are available on the high street can perform in space. The Google Nexus One android smartphone has been loaded with special experimental apps and will act as the "brain of the satellite".

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, SSC director and also executive chairman of SSTL, said: "This mission is a fantastic achievement and a great tribute to the hard work of the engineers involved.

"The UK's first nanosatellite Snap-1, also built by SSC and SSTL and launched in 2000, was the world's most advanced nanosatellite at the time - Strand-1 continues that story with the latest technologies available to us in 2013."

The smartphones that many people carry around in their pockets contain the highly advanced technologies that are integral to satellites - such as cameras, radio links, accelerometers and high performance computer processors.

Experts said they have almost everything needed to operate a satellite - except the solar panels and propulsion.

The Google Nexus One has been tested to work in a vacuum and at temperatures as low as minus 20C and as high as 50C. Its apps were chosen from entries to a Facebook competition, one of which tests whether a "Scream in Space" can be heard through vibrations in the phone's microphone.

Also fitted on the 3.9in (10cm) x 11.8in (30cm) satellite - which weighs 9.5lbs (4.3kg) - is a new Linux-based high-speed processor, an orbit control system and two water-alcohol fuelled plasma thrusters.

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