NASA launches iPhone and Android device into Space

Today marks the end of an era; NASA has successfully launched a Shuttle into orbit for the last time. On this launch, the crew took along a few extra items that you may not have expected to be on the final flight, an iPhone and an Android device.

NASA reports that for the first time, an iPhone will be used for experimental research onboard the Shuttle. The post states:

A Houston company called Odyssey Space Research developed an application for the Apple smartphone that is meant to help the astronauts track their scientific results and perhaps one day aid navigation. The device will be housed inside a small research platform built by NanoRacks. The platform will be placed inside the station.

Interestingly, the post mentions nothing of Android, but Robert Scoble, who attended the launch, tweeted that there is indeed an Android based phone on the Shuttle as well. The make and model of that device is not currently known.

In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself. The Shuttle program, which kicked off in 1981, is showing its age and NASA is currently working on its replacement, although it will not be available for several more years.

While the Shuttle program winds down, it is a sad day for those who grew up watching the massive bird be launched into space every few quarters. For that, we wish the Shuttle program a happy retirement, although, we will all be very sad to see it go.

Image Credit: Robert Scoble

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33 Comments

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Sorry to see the Shuttles go and it's a travesty that there is nothing on the immediate horizon to replace them, but they were old: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05...sa-boldly-goes-on-ebay.html

This article was posted in 2002, so lord knows what the situation is now.

Basically they were late 1970's technology. Whatever comes along next (and I hope the US stays in the game), hopefully it will have the upgradability and expandability that the Shuttles lacked. But it's easy to imagine how America could now slip so far behind that it might never catch up again.

I could be mistaken, but I have noticed, out of the devices I have used, Symbian, Android, iOS, etc., I find the person developing for iOS just seems more committed, putting more attention and creativity into the end user experience of their creations. I have my Android mobile device which has some gems in its own, but I keep taking out my iPod (uses the same software as the iPhone) to do everything, because for me, the user experience is more fun sans 3G.

If this is the last shuttle mission how the hell are those dudes in the space station going to get there corn flakes..... Unless NASA was building a ship to move all the rich and famous from the incoming planet killer event.... getting ready for 2012.... pull the wool over my eyes will yeh

Most hardware will run at those temperatures.

Windows Phone/Android/iPhones have all been into the stratosphere in various balloon projects.

All you *points* NEED TO GET LAID.

alexalex said,
What ? WP7 phones are not reliable enough to be used in space ?

The application they are using was written for the iPhone. Keep trolling though, it makes you look really cool and everyone thinks you're awesome now.

alexalex said,
What ? WP7 phones are not reliable enough to be used in space ?

Actually a valid point. WP7 is always left out. New app e.g. "now available for iPhone and Android devices!" ... never WP. Which is why I'll be switching to Android..

TRC said,

The application they are using was written for the iPhone. Keep trolling though, it makes you look really cool and everyone thinks you're awesome now.

So why do you think they choose to write the application for iPhone (and maybe Android) and not WP7 ? Maybe it's harder to write for WP7, or, maybe the software/hardware are not sufficient enough ?

alexalex said,

So why do you think they choose to write the application for iPhone (and maybe Android) and not WP7 ? Maybe it's harder to write for WP7, or, maybe the software/hardware are not sufficient enough ?

None of the above.

alexalex said,
So why do you think they choose to write the application for iPhone (and maybe Android) and not WP7 ? Maybe it's harder to write for WP7, or, maybe the software/hardware are not sufficient enough ?

Or maybe it hasn't been around all that long? Less than a year in fact? It's not like these shuttle missions are something they just whip up in an afternoon for the hell of it.

alexalex said,
Can't watch it. The video is in an unknown format "silverllight" that no one uses /s
Anyway, a weather balloon in not a space shuttle.

They make Silverlight for Mac's too. And I think you're missing his point.. the hardware sounds pretty reliable in extreme conditions. Besides.. the interior of a shuttle is a tad warmer than -58C.

alexalex said,

Can't watch it. The video is in an unknown format "silverllight" that no one uses /s
Anyway, a weather balloon in not a space shuttle.

You originally asked if WP7 was not reliable enough. Let's see, an enclosed capsule with a habitable environment, or exposed to extreme elements and showing how capable the device really is. Once again, your arguments show how mininformed you really are, so you need to setup a straw-man argument.

If you can't view the video, perhaps you should get a real OS. I can offer some suggestions.

nohone said,

You originally asked if WP7 was not reliable enough. Let's see, an enclosed capsule with a habitable environment, or exposed to extreme elements and showing how capable the device really is. Once again, your arguments show how mininformed you really are, so you need to setup a straw-man argument.

If you can't view the video, perhaps you should get a real OS. I can offer some suggestions.

+1000

nohone said,

You originally asked if WP7 was not reliable enough. Let's see, an enclosed capsule with a habitable environment, or exposed to extreme elements and showing how capable the device really is. Once again, your arguments show how mininformed you really are, so you need to setup a straw-man argument.

If you can't view the video, perhaps you should get a real OS. I can offer some suggestions.

Weird I'm on windows and can't view it either since I don't have Silverlight installed. If OSX and Windows 7 aren't real OS's, what is?

ILikeTobacco said,

Weird I'm on windows and can't view it either since I don't have Silverlight installed. If OSX and Windows 7 aren't real OS's, what is?

+1

ILikeTobacco said,

Weird I'm on windows and can't view it either since I don't have Silverlight installed. If OSX and Windows 7 aren't real OS's, what is?

I was poking fun at someone who obviously is here to troll, and his little friend who stopped by to add his usual nothing to the 'argument'

alexalex said,
What ? WP7 phones are not reliable enough to be used in space ?

Where are Symbian, Meego, Blackberry devices? They can't take everything you know.

> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

It's true, widely known. NASA and ESA still use ancient Intel processors, just because they're tried and tested, and way enough to power anything needed in those systems. I think some of them ran on Intel 486's and even some 8086 ones.

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

Is it really that unbelievable that you need to demand a source?

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

The systems on the shuttle don't need any more power. They aren't playing Crysis up there.

Also they aren't using ordinary chips. They're specially made to withstand the radiation in space.

bdsams said,
Read this: http://www.popsci.com/node/31716

Shuttle has just 1 Megabyte of RAM...the computer is very simple, on/off functions only.

Google around a bit, you can find a lot more about it.

Nice read, seems the computing part is the most basic stable solution they could create that controls the insane power behind the shuttle. No FTL drives for sure

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

The space shuttle runs 5x (the upgraded) AP-101S (nope, that's IBM, not Intel) rated at 1.2 MIPS.
(http://www.google.com/notebook...747416094/BDQKXSwoQoYjLsvMh)

The iPhone 4 used the ARM Cortex-A8 rated at 2.0 DMIPS / Mhz so rated at 1000 Mhz that's 2,000 MIPS
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture)

There, now, that's better. 'The phones having more processing power' is actually an understatement.

TRC said,

The systems on the shuttle don't need any more power. They aren't playing Crysis up there.

Also they aren't using ordinary chips. They're specially made to withstand the radiation in space.

not really, even NASA was mad when Intel stopped production of the 8086 processor a few years ago and they believe it or not actually had to buy some off *gasp* ebay... they where just your standard 8086 processors, nothing really special about them

and even up to today, they tested the boosters of the shuttle with 8086 processors

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,

not really, even NASA was mad when Intel stopped production of the 8086 processor a few years ago and they believe it or not actually had to buy some off *gasp* ebay... they where just your standard 8086 processors, nothing really special about them

and even up to today, they tested the boosters of the shuttle with 8086 processors


We had a nutjob professor lectrer in uni, he seemed to know a hell of a lot about the processors being used in NASA designs.
They're old because all the bugs and glitches in them are known and workarouns can be coded for them, whereas if you actually look at the errate of intel chips when they are released, you'll see the number of bugs found slowly goes up, for example go and look at the core i7 eratta to learn about CPU flaws and exploits that could cause you big problems or your PC to get hacked without you knowing about it.

n_K said,
They're old because all the bugs and glitches in them are known and workarouns can be coded for them.

It's not just that, there is also the fact that because the chips have such large components they are much less prone to failure when bombarded with cosmic rays.

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

When it comes to space agencies, they really stick to "If it ain't broke, don't touch it". Literally. If it works with Win3.1 and 8086, then don't touch it. If you'd put a dual core there with Win7, you'd spend millions just redesigning the software for all systems.

Breach said,
> In a bit of irony, the phones on the Shuttle have more processing power than the Shuttle itself.
Source?

You need a source to know that a phone from 2011 is better than a computer from 1981?