NASA PhoneSat 2.4 is ready for input
NASA has been toying with very small and cheap satellites over the last several months. These satellites measure 4-inches cubed and the brain is a off the shelf smartphone. The specific smartphone is the Nexus S that launched back in 2010. NASA calls the satellites PhoneSat and the latest version is PhoneSat 2.4.
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The new satellite was put into orbit on November 19 and has spent the time in orbit conducting tests on itself. PhoneSat 2.4 is the first of the satellites to have a 2-way radio on board and it recently phoned home saying everything was good to go. That radio allows the satellite to be contacted by ground controllers.
PhoneSat 2.4 also has a system that allows ground controllers to control its attitude in space. NASA is already looking forward to launching its next PhoneSat, version 2.5. The 2-way radio in version 2.4 is allowing the ground controllers to download data and control the orientation control system over an amateur radio frequency.
PhoneSat 2.5 is expect to launch in Feburary. It will go into orbit on a commercial SpaceX rocket. Verison 2.5 will continue to test the 2-way radio system and attitude control system.
"It's great to hear from NASA's most recent cubesat spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft."