Android smartphone heads into space

Android? Space? It's a marriage made in heaven. So we're not entirely surprised to see an Android smartphone flying into the sky. For good reason too.

According to Crave, British researchers plan to launch an android phone into orbit, with the aim of making a smartphone the brain for an orbital satellite. It's called the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), the work of Surrey Satellite Technology, a spinoff of the University of Surrey, and the university's Surrey Space Centre, with the project more serious than it might sound at first.

Initiall, the team wants to see if a smartphone can function in a hostile environment like space, using a series of computer-driven tests and a protective case to get the answer and to work out which components (sensors, video cameras, GPS systems, Wi-Fi radios etc) do and don't work in space.

If that part is a success, custom software will then be tested, eventually operating parts of a satellite via satellite radio instead of the main computer on the satellite.

'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,' said Chris Bridges, STRaND-1's lead researcher.

It could make satellites both smaller and cheaper if the technology works, replacing the large 'brain' in the satellites of today. Of course, it could also lead to several bad sci-fi movies about supervillain's taking over the world via a mobile phone. I guess we'll have to live with that for the greater good.

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