updated 11:40 pm EDT, Thu July 7, 2011
Atlantis to carry Android and iOS on last shuttle
The last Space Shuttle flight will have Android alongside the two iPhones when Atlantis launches on Friday, NASA said the day before. Two Google Nexus S phones will be taken to the International Space Station to expand the features of SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), drones used to test spacecraft techniques and satellite maintenance. The phones will give the floating pods freedom to be controlled from the ground, cameras for a first-person view, and extra performance than they would have on their own.
An upgrade will turn the devices into effective servant robots for the crew, the Intelligent Robotics Group's DW Wheeler told CNET. Among the possibilities are scanning supplies or looking for clear flaws. The goal is to ultimately keep ISS crew members focused on their missions and not on menial tasks.
The phones' installation is estimated to happen in September or October.
Carrying both of the two major American smartphone platforms may be symbolic for Atlantis. For many, Apple and Google together represent the new forefront of US technology while the Space Shuttle is bowing out over 30 years after it too was the cutting edge. The iPhones and Nexus S phones are both being used to conduct experiments that wouldn't have been possible on Earth or before modern smartphones.
Atlantis is scheduled to launch at 11:26AM Eastern and, appropriately, will have live streaming coverage optimized both for Android and iPhone viewers.