Smartphone-Powered Satellite Blasts Into Space

Here's looking at you.

The STRaND-1 satellite in December 2012

The little porthole is for the smartphone's camera.SSTL/SSC

Got an Android phone? It's now got a cousin in space. A Google Nexus One-powered nano-satellite got rocketed into orbit this morning.

The satellite, called STRaND-1 for Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator, will use its phone's computing power to collect scientific data, take pictures of Earth and perform some of its operations once it's in orbit. This is the first smartphone-powered satellite to go into space.

Smartphones' GPS stop working at around 60,000 feet, so STRaND-1 uses a small GPS unit designed for space, according to the STRaND website. The phone is able to upload apps while it's in space.

STRaND-1 went up with several other satellites and rockets, including an ocean-monitoring satellite from the Indian Space Research Organisation and French Space Agency; the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite, which will look for large asteroids whose orbits might bring them in contact with Earth; and the world's smallest telescope missions. Everybody got bundled into the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and blasted off at 7:31 am Eastern today from Sriharikota, India.