July 31, 2014

British Scientists Sending an Android Into Space

We can file this one under another Android first: some British rocket scientists at the Surrey Space Center and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are planning to send an Android phone up to space. Now, a few months back, Google sent a Nexus S up over 60,000 feet attached to a balloon, but with this mission, our favorite mobile OS will be powering a small satellite in low Earth orbit. There’s no word on what model of phone or when the mission will take place.

The reason the Surrey team chose an Android phone is the open source nature of the operating system itself. With Android they are able to modify the phone to fit their purpose, which is to see if a modern smartphone can precisely point and maneuver a 30 cm mini satellite in space, using the phone’s various sensors (e.g. GPS). They are also planning to take a couple pictures with the phone’s camera, to test if the camera would work in space.

Unfortunately they will not be trying out the phone capabilities of the phone on this mission, but even without that this is going to be an exciting mission. If it is a success then it will open up a lot of opportunities for smaller companies and even individual people to be able to take pictures in outer space, even if they are not able to afford it.