Samsung/Google Nexus S smartphone certified by NASA flies aboard final space shuttle

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., 10 July 2011. The Nexus S mobile device--the first commercial smartphone certified by NASA to fly on the space shuttle and cleared for use on the International Space Station--co-developed by Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) and Google is flying aboard NASA’s final space shuttle. Nexus S will enable small, free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) used by the astronauts to provide a broader range of capabilities and better communication between land and sky. 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 is expected to expand the capabilities of each individual satellite, while furthering NASA’s understanding and exploration of space. 

"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," DW Wheeler, lead engineer in the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., explains. 

“Samsung is proud to have the Nexus S chosen to be aboard NASA’s final space shuttle launch, an event that is historical,” says Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile. “The research being conducted with SPHERES using the Nexus S will help monitor and communicate from the International Space Station.”

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, says a spokesperson. Astronauts will, thereby, be able to dedicate more time to science experiments and other work. 

In the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program, space shuttle Atlantis has embarked on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis' STS-135 mission will deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.

Co-developed by Google and Samsung, Nexus S features Super AMOLED touch-screen technology, a 4-inch Contour Display with a curved design, and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The smartphone features a 5-megapixel, rear-facing camera and camcorders, in addition to a VGA front-facing camera. Nexus S is powered by Android 2.3, the latest version of Google’s Android operating system platform. Nexus S also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networking, as well as 16 gigabytes of internal memory.

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