UK-made nanosatellite ready for take-off

Posted on 11 Feb 2013

Strand-1, the world’s first spacecraft to be fully controlled by a smartphone, was sent to India for a rocket launch that will take place at the end of February.

The cubesat (a miniaturised satellite used for space research) is entirely made in Britain. It was developed by Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology and Surrey Space Centre.

Strand-1 will undertake a six-month mission in orbit, during which it will be operated by a Google Nexus device.

Dr Chris Bridges, SSC’s lead engineer on the project, said: “The Nexus One has not been physically modified in any way. We’ve done lots and lots of tests on it; we’ve put our own software on it. But we’ve essentially got a regular phone, connected up the USB to it and put it in the satellite.”

The phone will go to space pressed against a side panel of the nanosatellite, and it will also be used to take pictures of the Earth and the moon.

During the first part of the mission, Strand (which stands for Surrey Training Research and Nanosatellite Demonstration) will be used to test two new propulsion systems, one based on the ejection of a thrust-generating mixture of alcohol and water, the other on plasma thrusters that use a charged gas that can be accelerated in one direction and pushes the cubesat into the other.