NASA to launch smartphone powered satellites.
NASA’s PhoneSat program aims to show how widely available, low cost technology can be used to affordably make new scientific discoveries in space. In early 2013 NASA will launch three cube satellites, each around 10cm square. The first two models (PhoneSat 1.0) will be powered by an HTC-built Nexus One smartphne. NASA’s PhoneSat 1.0 satellite has a basic mission goal–to stay alive in space for a short period of time, sending back digital imagery of Earth and space via its camera, while also sending back information about the satellite’s health.
The third satellite (to be launched at the same time) is powered by a newer Nexus S, made by Samsung. PhoneSat 2.0 also will supplement the capabilities of PhoneSat 1.0 by adding a two-way S-band radio to allow engineers to command the satellite from Earth, solar panels to enable longer-duration missions, and a GPS receiver. In addition, PhoneSat 2.0 will add magnetorquer coils – electro-magnets that interact with Earth’s magnetic field – and reaction wheels to actively control the satellite’s orientation in space.
The cost of each satellite has been kept to under US$3,500. They will launch aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket, with a launch date still to be confirmed.