NASA PhoneSat 2.4 finally phones home

Shane McGlaun - Dec 5, 2013
NASA PhoneSat 2.4 finally phones home

Back in November, NASA launched the latest version of its PhoneSat into orbit. The PhoneSat 2.4 satellite launched at 8:15pm on November 19 hitching a ride into orbit using a Orbital Minotaur I rocket. PhoneSat 2.4 built on the successful flights of other small satellites that used smartphones for their brain.

The goal of the NASA PhoneSat program is to make satellites that are cheap and use consumer hardware and electronics, yet are able to function in orbit around the Earth. The smartphones are enclosed in a small 4-inch square cube. PhoneSat 2.4 has two-way radio transmissions capability and reaction wheels to controls the satellites attitude.

NASA announced this week that PhoneSat 2.4 has completed its checkout in orbit and sent back data confirming that all systems are go. The little satellite weighs 2.2 pounds and was developed by the NASA Ames Research Center. This was the first PhoneSat to use a 2-way S-band radio. That radio allows engineers on the ground to command the satellite.

PhoneSat 2.4 used a Nexus S smartphone as the brain. That device is made by Samsung electronics and runs Android for the operating system. Ground control for the PhoneSat 2.4 mission is Santa Clara University in California. NASA says that PhoneSat 2.5 is set to launch in February and will continue to test the two-way radio and orientation systems. For more details on the Nexus S smartphone used in these satellites, check out our review of the Nexus S from 2010.


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