We’ve had some pretty cool product launches in our time, but next year NASA is redefining a phone launch: in 2013 they are launching an HTC-built Nexus One into space. The mission is part of the PhoneSat program, which is dedicated to creating small, low-cost, and easy-to-build “nano-satellites.”
As you might expect however, NASA isn’t just un-boxing an HTC Nexus One and strapping it to a rocket. They’ve already put the Nexus One through years of tests, from thermal-vacuum chambers, extreme vibration tests, to high-altitude balloon flights, and more. Back in 2010, a Nexus One was attached to a rocket and shot to the edge of space – and the phone’s camera recorded the entire trip.
This revolutionary approach to satellite design is possible because today’s smartphones incorporate nearly all the things needed for a modern satellite: flexible operating systems, GPS receivers, multi-band radios, gyroscopes, accelerometers, high-quality cameras, and more. Even a device like the Nexus One, which is several years old, has about 100 times more processing power than the average satellite orbiting overhead today.
Given how far technology has come since the Nexus One, it will be amazing to see what NASA engineers do with today’s technology. Perhaps we’ll see the HTC One X+ in the next spaceship bound for Jupiter?
What would you like to see NASA do with a smartphone?