HTC says NASA is preparing to launch a Nexus One smartphone into space next year.
According to a blog post on HTC's website, the mission is part of the PhoneSat program, which aims to create small, low-cost, and easy-to-build “nano-satellites.”
The project has been in the works for some time. NASA has put the Nexus One through years of tests, from thermal-vacuum chambers, extreme vibration tests, to high-altitude balloon flights. Back in 2010, a Nexus One was attached to a rocket and shot to the edge of space. That phone’s camera recorded the entire trip.
"This revolutionary approach to satellite design is possible because today’s smartphones incorporate nearly all the things needed for a modern satellite: flexible operating systems, GPS receivers, multi-band radios, gyroscopes, accelerometers, high-quality cameras, and more," wrote Darren Krape, global community manager for HTC, in the blog post.
Krape notes that even a device like the Nexus One, which is several years old, "has about 100 times more processing power than the average satellite orbiting overhead today."