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SSTL using Android handsets to control satellites, conquer the final frontier


First, the Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation tested a Nexus One's ability to deal with the stress of a rocket launch. Then, Google floated seven Nexi to the edge of space to see if the phones could cope with the void. Now, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is looking to launch a satellite into orbit and use a 'droid -- much smaller than the Astromech variety -- to control said satellite. SSTL, who is helping build Galileo (and is acutely aware of its cost, no doubt), views smartphones as a way to democratize access to space because they are far less expensive than purpose-built control systems. The company hasn't said which handset will be used in the satellite, but they chose Android because it allows engineers to easily modify the phone to do their bidding -- from controlling pulse plasma thrusters to handling the advanced guidance and navigation systems of the foot long satellite. Additionally, the open source OS means that they "could get people to develop apps" for the satellite. We've seen plenty of Android apps, but we're really hoping this venture is successful so we get to see apps... in space.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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