The world’s first space smartphone was launched into orbit today (Feb 25) atop an Indian Space Research Organisation PSLV rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. It’s part of the systems of the STRaND-1 spacecraft, which was sent into a 785-kilometer (488-mi) Sun-synchronous orbit where it will carry out a series of technology demonstrations under the guidance of the Surrey Space Centre’s ground station at the University of Surrey, UK.

Launched along with the twin BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) spacecraft, STRaND-1 is also the UK’s first CubeSat. It was developed by a team from the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). The 10 cm x 30 cm (3.9 in x 11.8 in) 3U CubeSat weighs 4.3 kg (9.4 lb) and is carrying out a training and demonstration mission. In addition to the Google Nexus One smartphone it has a Linux-based high-speed processor, attitude and orbit control systems, eight pulsed plasma thrusters, and a water-alcohol propulsion system.

The first phase will be controlled by the Linux processor as STRaND-1 carries out tests on its new experimental propulsion and control systems. In the second phase, the smartphone will take control in order to demonstrate how many smartphone systems can be readily adapted for satellite applications.

Being a smartphone, it of course has some apps developed from a Facebook competition.

The first is the iTesa, which records the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone while in orbit and will be used as proof of principle for future studies of magnetic oscillations in the upper atmosphere.

The STRAND Data app displays satellite telemetry on the smartphone's screen. Images taken of the display by an onboard camera will provide new graphical telemetry to interpret trends.

The 360 app uses images from the smartphone's camera to establish STRaND-1's position. These images will be available to the public on request along with a map showing where the images were taken.

For a bit of fun, the Scream in Space app from Cambridge University Space Flight uses the phone’s speaker to test the veracity of the Alien tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The app will play video screams and the playback will be recorded by the phone’s microphone.

The satellite will undergo a commissioning process over next two weeks by the Surrey Space Centre’s ground station at the University of Surrey with the switchover to smartphone control scheduled for after systems tests have been completed.

One of the satellites two experimental propulsion systems is its WARP DRiVE (Water Alcohol Resistojet Propulsion Deorbit Re-entry Velocity Experiment), which uses a water/alcohol mixture for propulsion. This will be used deorbit the satellite at the end of its lifetime.

According to SST, STRaND-1 can be tracked by radio amateurs with the downlink frequency available at AMSAT-UK.

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