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NASA's latest cubesat phones home

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NASA's Phone 2.4, a small satellite that uses an off-the-shelf smartphone for a brain has called home. The cubesat has finished its checkout period and sent back data confirming that all of its systems are functioning properly.

PhoneSat 2.4 was developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The cube-shaped satellite is about four inches square and weighs 2.2 pounds. It uses two-way S-band radio which allows it to be controlled by engineers on the ground. Its mission is to confirm the viability of using smartphones and other off-the-shelf electronics in low-Earth orbit satellites.

"It's great to hear from NASA's most recent cubesat spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft."

NASA successfully tested PhoneSat 1.0 with a one week mission in April. PhoneSat 2.4 will test how well commercially developed components perform in space over the course of a one year mission. The cubesat will also test a new system for controlling its orientation in space. The tiny spacecraft uses Nexus S smartphone running Google's Android operating system. Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif. is providing the ground station for the mission.

PhoneSat 2.4 was just one of 29 satellites launched into space about an Orbital Sciences Minotaur I rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Launch Facility in Virginia on November 19. This launch briefly held the for the most satellites launched on one rocket. On November 21, the record was broken by a Russian Dnepr rocket carrying 32 satellites from 18 countries.

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