NASA PhoneSat

In the small satellite space, an intrepid team at NASA has figured out that a stock Android HTC phone can work just fine as a low-cost satellite (it has a better processor than many satellites, and decent multi-axis sensors and GPS. They already know it works in a vacuum.)


Here it is mounted in a cubesat chassis with extra batteries and a yellow metal tape measure for an antenna.


Launched with a balloon from central California, this frame is from the video captured by a Go Pro HD camera at 100,000 ft. They tracked it with GPS and the APRS network, and followed the satellite beeping with a handheld antenna and HAM radio gear.


Image courtesy of NASA Ames Research Center 2011


I got some photos of the sounding rocket test over the summer (below) and here’s a cool video summary, and in HD (you can see me digging the V-2 out of the crater in the background =)

  • JulianBleecker 4y

  • solerena 4y

    Oh, would be cool to use it in the air!!!...had to turn it off while flying around the island on the helicopter yesterday:( not sure how one can test it..
  • Neil L 4y

    Wow that's a great idea - amazing that phones are powerful enough to do that now!
    Thanks for the interesting description :-)
  • born1945 4y

    Great video quality, especially in the 1080p-HD.
  • vennettaj 4y

  • Jason McDonald 4y

    Awesome. Do you know of any satellites using optical aperture synthesis?
  • msamaclean © 4y

    Great video, Steve. I would love to be there for some of these launches. So exhilarating! Onward & upward.
  • Black&Color 4y

    Way cool.
  • Michael Layefsky 4y

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this.

    Many of us are hoping to have Android phones controlling the servo motors and triggering the cameras on our kite and balloon aerial photography rigs before long. Along with these features, we also hope to have a real-time live video feed to assist with aiming/composition.
  • Stephen Bové 4y

    Hacking space...very cool.
  • downgongway 4y

    very cool
  • Casey Barker 4y

    dave halliday I had to ask the NASA guys about that myself. In a real flight configuration, the cubesat has to fit in cube-sized payload bay. You could rig up some sort of servo to deploy an antenna in orbit, but the tape measure is just a lot easier and more reliable.
  • mfrissen 4y

    Was it rooted?
  • xouroborus 4y

    Neat when someone repurposes tech. Did they do a write up for Instructables?

    AND, Happy Birthday!
  • Mulberries 4y

    Fascinating. Great to see this on Flickr.
  • Atoosa 4y

    That is just too cool! It's blowing my mind. LOVE this kind of thing. Great shot!
  • PatrickPater 4y

    Sweet :)
  • Scott Janousek 4y

    Atmosphere is going to get very busy the next few years. :)
  • chumworth 3y

    We used this image on

  • Steve Jurvetson 2y

    PhoneSat Test at RocketMavericks:
    Google Satellite Test

    and a photo montage from a space conference...
    PhoneSat testing
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Uploaded on February 26, 2011
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