Smart Phones in Space

Students, teachers, and commercial companies have been taking advantage of the International Space Station's (ISS) unique environment for years. One of those companies, Houston-based Odyssey Space Research, plans to bring the experience to the rest of us via our mobile devices.

International Space Station National Laboratory partner NanoRacks LLC has collaborated with Odyssey and Apple, enabling Odyssey to send two iPhone 4's to the ISS as part of the STS-135 mission in July. These phones are just like the ones you can find at the store, but with alterations to meet NASA flight standards. The smart phones use the same software as their Earth counterparts, and Odyssey used standard tools to develop a new app called SpaceLab for iOS, which will enable the planned research aboard the station. The app is also available for people to download to their own devices at iTunes.

The devices are part of an investigation called NanoRacks Smartphone, which looks at how the phones will operate in space. The hope is to use the phones in future research studies and to augment crew performance and productivity in operational activities. Once the investigation completes, the phones will return to Earth and scientists will analyze the stored data to better understand how the devices can be used for future research on the ISS and how the phones react to the space environment.

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