What are some of the things you can do with a Nexus One smartphone? Surf the web? Check your email? Play games? How about launching it 28,000 feet into the atmosphere, piggybacked on a rocket while recording the whole thing on video? Crazy, right? Well, that’s exactly what a group of rocket enthusiasts decided to do somewhere in the Nevada desert. The Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation strapped the Nexus One to the outside of an Intimidator-5 rocket and propelled the thing way up into the air.
Why would they do this? As it stands, satellites are far too big, far too bulky, and way too expensive. The idea is to find a low-cost satellite solution by using off the shelf products and components. According to Mavericks Foundation chairman Thomas Atchison, “The radio, processing power, sensors and cameras in smartphones potentially have the same capability as those in satellites.” With this test, the enthusiasts are better able to understand how a phone like the Nexus One can withstand the high-G environment, the vibrations associated with the rocket, the differences in temperature, and so forth.
A video of the rocket spiraling upwards into the outer atmosphere, then descending with a parachute:
Another video with Matthew Reyes explaining a SmallSat evolution from Maker Faire 2010: