Space shuttle Atlantis carries some curious cargo: two iPhones
Space, the final frontier. These are smart phones of the space shuttle Atlantis. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new apps and to boldly go where no iPhone has gone before.
(Page 2 of 2)
The goal of the SpaceLab app is to gather as much data as possible now to aid in developing more advanced mobile applications in the future.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“We view this very much as the beginning,” Rishikof says in a phone call with the Monitor. “We intend to explore more capable and more operational applications in the future.”
“Matt was committed like I’ve never seen anyone committed before,” Rishikof says on the phone. Normally, a project such as this would have a two-year timeline between “getting it defined and getting it flown.”
Why the iPhone and not the iPad? “There’s no reason in principle why we couldn’t have done the iPad,” Rishikof says. Yet, the compact size of the iPhone gives the device less mass and volume, and therefore a smaller footprint when calculating measurements. “In the future, the iPad is definitely on our list,” he says.
Curious about the new app? Earth-based users can download a home version for 99 cents from Apple’s App Store. IPhone owners can conduct the same experiments as the orbiting astronauts, with certain features simulated to account for Earth’s gravity.
Once the iPhones arrive at the space station, they will live in the NanoLab, a small research platform housed on the ISS, for several months.
“We did fly two phones,” Rishikof says. “You never know what’s going to happen, in case one malfunctions.” Another benefit of sending two phones, he says, is the chance to execute twice the number of experiments, which creates double the data.
The iPhones are expected back on Earth in the fall, after hopping aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The collected data will then be analyzed and shared via the SpaceLab iOS app.
“I’m really into space education,” Rishikof says. “We need to engage people in the activities that are going on in the space program.”
For more tech news, sign up for the free Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday.