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“PhoneSat”, successfully launched
STRaND-1, a nano-satellite carrying a smartphone, was successfully lifted off into space from Sriharikota, India. STRaND-1, weighing about 4.3kg, is an innovative training and demonstration satellite developed by the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). It is the world’s first smartphone in orbit and is the UK’s first CubeSat launched.  Powered by Google Nexus One, and android smartphone, STRaND-1 also carries a new Linux-based high-speed processor, altitude, orbit control system, a small GPS-unit and two novel propulsion systems.

ISRO’s PSLV launcher was used to launch the spacecraft into a 785 km Sun-synchronous orbit. Later, during phase-2, it will attempt to transfer control to the mobile phone. The satellite will also test two innovative propulsion systems, one using pulsed plasma thrusters and another water-alcohol propulsion system called “WARP DRiVE” which is designed to de-orbit the satellite at the end of its useful lifetime.

Apps can be successfully uploaded to the satellite and it will use its computing power to perform operations like collecting scientific data, taking photos of earth using the 5mp camera of Nexus One and apps like “iTesa” will record the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone during orbit and “Scream In space” allows public to upload videos of themselves screaming which will be played in space. As stated in the Surrey’s website, the phone’s GPS will stop working at around 60,000 feet so it will use the on-board GPS unit which is designed for operation in outer space.

Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL, says: “STRaND-1 is an example of the real synergy of academic research linked to commercial development and exploitation”.
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