At 11:29AM EDT this morning, the shuttle Atlantis took its last flight into space with a Samsung Nexus S, Android-powered phone, onboard. The Nexus S has become “the first commercial smartphone certified by NASA to fly on the space shuttle and to be cleared for use on the International Space Station.”
The Nexus S will be used to bring computing and video powers to the SPHERES or Synchronized, Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites. The SPHERES are drones equipped with sensors that are used for testing and maintaining the ISS (International Space Station) since 2006. The Samsung device will be taking control of these small satellites (SPHERES) that are pre-programmed to do several operations under the supervision of the astronauts at the space station. Check out the full press release below the SPHERES video.
SAMSUNG’S NEXUS S ABOARD NASA’S FINAL SHUTTLE
NASA has equipped a trio of SPHERES with a Nexus S by Google
smartphone to head to the International Space Station
Kennedy Space Center – July 8, 2011 — Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), a leading mobile phone provider and the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S. 1, and Google™ today announced Nexus™ S, is aboard NASA’s final space shuttle. As a leader in technology and innovation, Samsung is pleased to be a part of this moment which will most certainly be marked in history.
Nexus S from Google is part of research that will equip small, free-flying satellites called Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) used by the astronauts to provide a broader range of capabilities and give better communication between land and sky. Nexus S is the first commercial smartphone certified by NASA to fly on the space shuttle and to be cleared for use on the International Space Station. The experiment will use the smartphone-enhanced SPHERES as remotely operated robots to conduct interior survey and inspections of the station, to capture mobile camera images and video, and to study how robots can support future human exploration.
The addition of Nexus S to the SPHERES will add to the capabilities of each individual satellite while further increasing NASA’s understanding and exploration of space. Lead engineer in the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., DW Wheeler, explains, “By connecting a smartphone, we can immediately make SPHERES more intelligent. With a smartphone, the SPHERES will have a built-in camera to take pictures and video, sensors to help conduct inspections, a powerful computing unit to make calculations, and a Wi-Fi connection that we will use to transfer data in real-time to the space station and mission control.”
“Samsung is proud to have the Nexus S chosen to be aboard NASA’s final space shuttle launch, an event that is historical,” said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile. “The research that is being conducted with SPHERES using the Nexus S will help monitor and communicate from the International Space Station.”
In 1999, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undergraduate students, in conjunction with the Department of Defense and NASA, built five volleyball-sized free-flying satellites. These satellites are now referred to as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reporient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) and three of them have been on the International Space Station since 2006. Each SPHERE satellite is self-contained with propulsion, power, navigation and computing equipment. When first designed, the usage possibilities of today were far from conceivable, thus an “expansion port” was built into each of the SPHERES. Additional appendages and sensors can be added to the satellites, allowing wireless power transfer systems and cameras to become parts of the systems. Nexus S is the first commercial smartphone to become a part of the SPHERES via this expansion port.
With the addition of Nexus S, it allows SPHERES a wider range of capabilities on the satellites and improved communication between the land and sky. Mission control can remotely operate Nexus S-enhanced satellites to perform relatively mundane tasks such as running inventory or environmental surveys on the space station. Thus, astronauts will be able to dedicate more time to science experiments and other work rather than having to respond to routine maintenance demands.
About Space Shuttle Atlantis
Space shuttle Atlantis will embark on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-135 mission is the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Atlantis’ STS-135 mission will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.
About Nexus S
Co-developed by Google and Samsung, Nexus S features brilliant Super AMOLED touch screen technology, a 4-inch Contour Display with a curved design and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which allows information to be read off of everyday objects. The smartphone features a 5 megapixel rear facing camera and camcorders as well as a VGA front facing camera. Nexus S is powered by Android™ 2.3, the latest version of Google’s Android platform, making the smartphone not merely a telephone but a powerful mobile computer at the same time. Nexus S also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networking, as well as 16 GB of internal memory.
1Number one mobile phone provider in the U.S. claim for Samsung Mobile based upon reported shipment data, according to Strategy Analytics Q1 2011 U.S. Market Share Handset Shipments Reports.
Google, Nexus, and Android are trademarks of Google, Inc.
About Samsung Telecommunications America
Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC, a Dallas-based subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., researches, develops and markets wireless handsets and telecommunications products throughout North America. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.
About Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2008 consolidated sales of US$96 billion. Employing approximately 164,600 people in 179 offices across 61 countries, the company consists of seven independently operated business units: Visual Display, Mobile Communications, Telecommunication Systems, Digital Appliances, IT Solutions, Semiconductor and LCD. Recognized as one of the fastest growing global brands, Samsung Electronics is a leading producer of digital TVs, memory chips, mobile phones and TFT-LCDs. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.