India has become the world’s first country to launch a smartphone into space — loaded with a number of experimental ‘Apps’, some serious and some just for fun.
The British-built Strand-1 spacecraft, developed by scientists in Surrey, was sent into orbit from Sriharikota in India to test the capabilities of many standard smartphone components for a space environment.
Launched into a 785 km Sun-synchronous orbit on Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) PSLV launcher on Monday, the spacecraft is an innovative 3U CubeSat weighing 4.3 kg and is the world’s first “phonesat” to go into orbit, as well as the first UK CubeSat to be launched.
Developed by a team from the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), STRaND-1 is a training and demonstration mission, designed to test commercial off-the-shelf technologies in space.
“STRaND-1 from SSC and SSTL is an example of the real synergy of academic research linked to commercial development and exploitation that is the hallmark of Surrey,” Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, SSC Director and also Executive Chairman of SSTL, said.
“This launch is SSTL’s first with ISRO, and I am looking forward to exploring opportunities for further launches and a wider collaboration on space projects in the future,” Martin said in a statement.
During the first phase of the mission, STRaND-1 will be controlled by the satellite’s attitude control system and a new high-speed linux-based CubeSat computer.
During phase two the STRaND-1 team plan to switch many of the satellite’s in-orbit operations to the smartphone, a Google Nexus One which uses the Android operating system, thereby testing the capabilities of many standard smartphone components for a space environment.
The smartphone has also been loaded with a number of experimental “Apps”, some serious and some just for fun.
The Scream in Space app was developed by Cambridge University Space Flight and will make full use of the smartphone’s speakers.
Testing the theory ‘in space no-one can hear you scream, made popular in the 1979 film ‘Alien’, the app will play videos of the best screams while in orbit and screams will be recorded using the smartphone’s own microphone.