Smart Phones to be Tested in Space

U.K. researchers are preparing to put a mobile phone in space to operate a satellite while exploring new technologies available via the device.

Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. are preparing to put a smart phone in space.

"If a smart phone can be proved to work in space, it opens up lots of new technologies to a multitude of people and companies for space who usually can't afford it. It's a real game-changer for the industry," said Dr. Chris Bridges, lead researcher on the project.

"Smart phones 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," he said. "Because many smart phones also run on free operating systems that lend themselves to online software developers, the creators of applications for smart phones could feasibly develop apps for satellites."

The project, 'STRaND-1' (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), is a satellite containing a smart phone that will be launched into orbit around the Earth this year.

A computer will test the phone once in space. The micro-computer will then be switched off and the smart phone will be used to operate parts of the satellite.

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