Androids in space!

25 Jan 2011

ITEM: SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Limited) and the Surrey Space Centre in Guildford intend to put a smartphone inside a small Earth observation satellite later this year.

The phone won’t be making voice calls, but it will be used to control the satellite and take photos of the Earth, according to the BBC.

SSTL hasn’t said which make/brand it will use, but has confirmed it will be running on Google’s Android OS platform.

Why Android? Because of its open-source nature, which allows engineers to modify the software as needed to fulfill the necessary functions of the mission.

And why a smartphone? Because SSTL wants to make more use of relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf-electronics to lower the cost of its spacecraft designs.

Indeed, the handset will be a standard sub-$450 smartphone with no hardware modifications of any kind:

"We're not taking it apart; we're not gutting it; we're not taking out the printed circuit boards and re-soldering them into our satellite - we're flying it as is," [SSTL project manager Shaun] Kenyon explained.


Chris Bridges from the Surrey Space Centre commented: "If a smartphone 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."

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