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Thursday, January 03, 2013

NanoSats Alexander, Graham, and Bell to launch from Wallops Island aboard Antares

NASA PhoneSat demonstrator
An Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket will launch three PhoneSat spacecraft into low Earth orbit in 2013 from the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, co-located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va. The 4-inch "nanosatellites" weigh three pounds each and are dubbed Alexander, Graham, and Bell.
 
Antares at Wallops Island
Two PhoneSat 1.0 spacecraft use of Nexus One smartphone technology from HTC Corp. and Google's Android operating system. The third spacecraft is a beta version of PhoneSat 2.0 built around an updated Samsung Nexus S smartphone running Android OS, reports Nicolas Mokhoff at EE Times.
 
"The PhoneSat project is kind of a technology demonstration effort," said Jasper Wolfe of NASA's Ames Research Center. During the PhoneSat mission, amateur radio operators will be able to download and upload data packets. "One of the other benefits from PhoneSat is inspirational, demonstrating cool, cheap technologies that can inspire a lot of people to get involved in space," Wolfe said. "We want to keep up with all the technologies that are coming out and continually find new applications for technologies from other industries, particularly low-cost industries."
 
NASA's Andrew Petro added that PhoneSat seeks to leverage commercial tecnologies with “a mix of attributes akin to what spacecraft require. Those are already built into a smart phone, and that's what we're taking advantage of in the PhoneSat Project, which could ultimately lead to very low-cost satellite designs."

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