Researchers from the University of Surrey, and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, are planning to launch an as-yet unnamed Android phone into space, as part of a satellite.
As part of a project called STRaND-1, it looks set to be launched later this year.
Lead researcher Dr. Chris Bridges explained: “Smartphones pack lots of components – such as sensors, video cameras, GPS systems and Wi-Fi radios – that are technologically advanced but a fraction of the size, weight and cost of components used in existing satellite systems. “
“Many smartphones also run on free operating systems that lend themselves to online software developers, the creators of apps could feasibly develop for satellites,” he said.
A computer back on earth will monitor the phone, and its sensors, testing what parts of the phone are still working. The phone will also be sending messages and images back to earth through a radio system.
“If a smartphone can be proved to work in space, it opens up lots of new technologies to a multitude of people and companies who usually can’t afford it. It’s a real game-changer for the industry.”
It won’t be the first time a smartphone has been sent into space. Here’s a great video of Google’s weather balloon-powered attempts, replete with Android mascot to keep their Nexus S phone company. Be warned; the last ten seconds are heartbreaking. Not everyone made it back…