Orbital Antares Rocket Carries Phone Satellites for NASA; Michael Gazarik Comments

NASA photo

NASA photo

Orbital Science Corp.’s Antares rocket carried three smartphone satellites into space Sunday during its maiden flight from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

All three PhoneSats have already sent signals to several ground stations on Earth and the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. will track the satellites over the next two weeks, NASA said Monday.

The PhoneSats will also aim to take pictures of Earth using their built-in cameras and send them back to Ames.

NASA also wants amateur radio operators to participate in the technology demonstration project under the agency’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

“It’s always great to see a space technology mission make it to orbit,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology.

“The high frontier is the ultimate testing ground for new and innovative space technologies of the future,” he said, adding future commercial, academic and citizen-space users could use the technologies.

NASA said its satellites cost between $3,500 and $7,000 to build, using off-the-shelf components and the Android-run Google-HTC Nexus One smartphone as the onboard computer.

They also contain sensors, cameras, GPS receivers, several radios and an external battery pack, with each smartphone housed in a 4-inch-square cubesat structure.

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