NASA to launch inexpensive Android ‘phonesats’ into space

Android….in….space! This morning, Will Marshall of NASA showed the Android Open Conference plans for a sub-$10,000 Nexus One “phonesat.” Given that the cost of satellites usually measure in the tens or hundreds of millions or so, that’s a rather spectacular cost savings.

Marshall says that this will be the fastest processor to govern a satellite. For reference, Mars Explorer used a 33MHz processor. It sends signals back via amateur radio packet system, rather than ground tracking. The launch video is embedded below:

Great anecdote: when a launch failed, the entire payload fell without parachute into desert. The data was left intact.

William launching 3 Android phonesats in December, in space for 3 weeks. As O’Reilly Media’s Gina Blaber pointed out, they’re “iterating Silicon Valley-style.”

For more, check out the short documentary below about the PhoneSat suborbital test launch in the Black Rock desert:

PhoneSat Rocket Launch Documentary from Ben Howard on Vimeo.

You can follow @NASA_Phonesat on Twitter — there’s no official website yet – and, according to Marshall, eventually check out code on Github, where NASA is open sourcing some software behind it. (And yes, that’s a big deal.)