A team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, is developing a miniature satellite named “PhoneSat”. The most interesting thing is that the PhoneSat satellites will be powered by Google’s Nexus One and Nexus S smartphones. The project PhoneSat is been aimed to launch the “lowest-cost satellites ever flown into space.” Possibly, the PhoneSat may launch sometime in late 2012.
PhoneSat is a part of a larger experiment called the Small Spacecraft Technology Program. Small Spacecraft Technology Program incorporates small consumer electronics into working nano-satellites. The team behind the project plans to use the PhoneSats in future missions including moon exploration, low-cost Earth observations, testing of new technologies, components for space flight etc.
At present, the team has built 2 nanosatellite prototypes that will be sent into space at different times. The first one is named PhoneSat 1.0 and will have Nexus One smartphone, external batteries, external radio beacon, a cozy 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm CubeSat shell. The total satellite will weigh four pounds only. The PhoneSat 1.0 prototype has already been tested in a thermal-vacuum chamber, on vibration and shock tables, and on high-altitude balloons.
If the PhoneSat 1.0 achieves success, the team will send up the second PhoneSat, which will be known as PhoneSat 2.0, in order to get some useful data from the probe. PhoneSat 2.0 will have powerful Samsung Nexus S inside it and it will feature a 2-way S-band radio, solar panels, and a GPS receiver. Added to these, PhoneSat 2.0 will have magnetorquer coils, electromagnets for interacting with Earth’s magnetic field, and reaction wheels to control the unit’s orientation in space.
According to PCWorld, “The radio will command the satellite from the ground, while the solar panels will enable the unit to embark on a mission with a long duration.”
NASA has spent last few years assembling the PhoneSats and the devices inside the miniature satellites. The miniature satellite PhoneSat 1.0 will cost NASA $3,500 to build. It has not been announced when PhoneSat 1.0 will launch. But, it’s been hinted that three PhoneSat 1.0 satellites powered by Nexus One will be launched sometime later this year. A low-Earth-orbiting rocket Antares will carry the 3 PhoneSat 1.0 satellites into space.