I wrote about NASA’s PhoneSat project for Wired:
The first version of NASA’s satellite — PhoneSat 1.0 — costs about $3,500 to build. It’s a coffee-cup-sized cube designed to withstand cosmic radiation, containing an HTC Nexus One phone running the Android operating system, an external radio beacon, external bateries, and a circuit that will reboot the phone if it stops transmitting data — all off-the-shelf commercial parts.
It has been tested under various adverse conditions, such as “thermal-vacuum chambers, vibration and shock tables, sub-orbital rocket flights and high-altitude balloons.” The plan is to launch this month with the modest goal of staying alive long enough to send a few photos back to earth.
The next version, PhoneSats 2.0, will use newer Samsung Nexus S phones and include a two way radio system that will enable researchers to control the satellite from earth. Other enhancements include solar panels and magnetorquer coils.
Last April, NASA sponsored a development contest giving programmers the chance to write Android apps that will run on the PhoneSat. Examples of potential applications include star tracking and radiation monitoring apps.