Operation “NexusOne PhoneSat” was recently carried out by NASA. The intent of this operation was to see if devices such as these could potentially replace satellite systems. The operation was carried out by a group of NASA Ames students, two Google employees and two NASA contractors.
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The launch of the Nexus One was a test to see how the device would handle the high G environment at extreme altitudes. The team was under direction from a group of rocket engineers from Maverick Civilian Space Foundation. They strapped a Nexus one to the back of a rocket and sent it into the atmosphere above the Nevada desert. The first attempt did not have good results. The first Nexus One came back with a shattered screen. The second attempt had a much better outcome.
The purpose of this experiment was to attempt to create low cost satellite solutions out of mobile phones. Thomas Atchison is the chairman of the Maverick Foundation and he had this to say in a recent interview with WIRED, “Today’s satellites are the size of Greyhound buses,” claims Atchison. “But I believe they are going to get smaller and more frequently deployed. This is a first-step effort.” Phones today are coming out with advanced processing power, digital cameras and radio capacity which is similar to what is used in satellites. Phones are much smaller in size and provide a potential model for decreasing the size and cost of satellites of today.
The video below shows the Nexus One being sent 28,000 feet into the air.