British Scientists Send Android Into Orbit

January 24, 2011, By Christian Cawley

There’s always a new use for mobile phones turning up, from email to internet, mobile blogging to gaming – oh, and making calls.

British scientists send Android into orbit

But few could have predicted the slightly barmy idea of sending a cellphone into space “to see if it works”. Despite that fact that there are few relay towers in orbit around the earth (certainly none that will let you stay on your local tariff) British engineers are planning on putting a mobile phone in orbit.

The idea is two-fold: first of all, the scientists at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford want to ascertain whether or not the phone (an Android, naturally) will function in the extreme conditions in orbit; secondly, they want to see if the phone can be used to control the satellite.

Of course, there is a lot more to this than a 21st century example of barmy British bravura – the real aim of all of this is to establish if the cost of spacefaring can be reduced by employing off the shelf components such as mobile phones.

The chosen Android cellphone will be attached to the satellite in one piece without any additional components added to it, and the SSTL team will prove this by means of a satellite-mounted camera pointing at the phone. In order to interact with the phone and use it to control the satellite, there is likely to be a USB connector in place that will also be providing the phone with a charge.

It’s fascinating stuff – but nothing new to SSTL who have already worked to reduce the size of satellites by employing technology designed for laptops. Uncovering similar technological overlaps in cellphones is a superb way to make satellite technology available while businesses continue to downsize.

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