Final Space Shuttle Lifts Off With Two iPhones Aboard

5915301679 f977512336 b

This morning at 11:29AM EDT, space shuttle Atlantis took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the final shuttle mission, STS-135.

The launch marks the end of the more than 30-year Shuttle program to explore and learn more about our world, the solar system, and the universe.

The STS-135 crew will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with more than 8,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.

Atlantis is also carrying two iPhone 4's to the International Space Station (ISS) for experimentation. The "space certified" iPhones are loaded with a specially designed app, SpaceLab for iOS (downloadable from the App Store [iTunes]) that will let astronauts conduct several experiments:

Limb Tracker - This navigation experiment will involve taking photographs of the Earth and matching an arc to the horizon through manipulation of an overlay. This performs the function roughly equivalent to a “manual” horizon sensor. It will yield an estimate of altitude (height above the surface) and “off axis” angle, a measurement of the angle of the image with respect to the Earth's center.

Sensor Cal - This sensor calibration experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image, combined with propagated information using three-axis gyro and accelerometer measurements to calibrate the gyros and the accelerometers (i.e. bias and scale coefficients). This will improve the knowledge and accuracy of subsequent measurements.

State Acq - State Acquisition - This navigation experiment uses a series of photos of a reference image and of the Earth, combined with information from the three-axis gyro and accelerometer, to estimate the position of the spacecraft (latitude and longitude). The position estimation is generated by manipulating and matching a wireframe overlay of the Earth's coastlines to the acquired Earth image(s). Performing multiple sequences, separated by a known amount of time, can permit estimation of the spacecraft's orbit parameters.

LFI Lifecycle Flight Instrumentation - This experiment will characterize the effects of radiation on the device by monitoring certain areas of memory for Single Bit Upsets - an unintended change in value of a memory location caused by exposure to radiation.

Once the experiments are complete, the phones will be returned to Earth via the Russian Soyuz vehicle, as early as this fall. Flight data will be collected, analyzed, and then shared via the SpaceLab app.

The three-axis gyroscopes and accelerometers in the iPhone 4 are expected to perform very well in zero-gravity, and are being tested as an alternative to much more expensive equipment.

Earthbound users can replicate some of the tests by downloading the SpaceLab app, but, understandably, some tests must be simulated to account for the presence of gravity.

Atlantis is on a 12-day mission and is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 11:06AM EDT on Sunday. For more information and to follow STS-135, visit NASA's main space shuttle website.

(Photo courtesy Flickr/Robert Scoble)

Top Rated Comments

Grey Area Avatar
125 months ago
I hope they remember to put the phones into airplane mode.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
garethpauljones Avatar
125 months ago
I dread to think what the roaming charges would be like! :D
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skika Avatar
125 months ago
Well at least it wont shatter when they drop it.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dethmaShine Avatar
125 months ago

According to Android Central, there are a few Nexus S phones on board too.

http://www.androidcentral.com/nexus-s-hitching-ride-back-space-final-shuttle-flight

You'd still be trying to scroll without a lag by the time the space shuttle returns. lolol
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JTToft Avatar
125 months ago
Is there anything left that the iPhone hasn't been used for?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
the Helix Avatar
125 months ago
It's a pity that...

It's a shame that the president has decided to abandon such an important program for our country and its morale.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
iOS 15 icon mock banner

iOS 15 Rumored to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:58 am PST by
Apple's upcoming iOS 15 operating system, which we expect to see unveiled in June, is rumored to be dropping support for a few of Apple's older iPhones. According to French site iPhoneSoft, iOS 15 will not be able to be installed on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, or the 2016 iPhone SE, all of which have an A9 chip. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were introduced in 2015 and are now more...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...
maxresdefault

Video Demos macOS Catalina Running on iPad Pro via x86 Emulation

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:36 am PST by
A video demonstrating macOS Catalina running on a current 2020 iPad Pro has been shared on YouTube, giving us a look at an interesting hack that has a Mac OS up and working on one of Apple's iPads. There's limited information about how the process of getting macOS Catalina on an iPad Pro works, but it uses x86 emulation and was done through the UTM software that allows virtual machines to...
iOS 14

Apple Seeds iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 Release Candidate to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Thursday January 21, 2021 10:14 am PST by
Apple today seeded the RC version of upcoming iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new betas coming a week after Apple released the second betas. iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. Paired with the HomePod 14.4 beta that is...
iPhone OIS Feature2

Sensor-Shift Camera Stabilization Rumored to Expand to Entire iPhone 13 Lineup

Wednesday January 20, 2021 7:46 am PST by
The entire iPhone 13 lineup will feature sensor-shift optical image stabilization, compared to only the iPhone 12 Pro Max among current models, according to a brief story preview shared today by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. "Apple's next-generation iPhones slated for launch in the second half of 2021 will all come with sensor-shift stabilization technology, according to industry...