NASA uses commercial smartphone as control system to put three satellites into orbit: Page 2 of 2

June 12, 2013 //By Dylan McGrath
On April 21, NASA launched a novel project, putting into orbit three satellites that employ an off-the-shelf commercial smartphone as the control system.
years, Frost noted. "We've driven consumer electronics to the point where they are just amazingly capable little devices and ridiculously affordable for what they can do," he said.

Frost has been at the forefront of aerospace technology for more than 25 years. He joined the Army/NASA joint rotorcraft division in 1997. During these years at NASA, both electronics and spacecraft technology have come a long way.

"I'm part of the generation that first started to get their hands on the first computers," Frost said. He added that some of the earliest projects he worked on as an engineer still used analog control systems. The fundamental revolution, he said, beginning with Apollo, was the move to digital flight control.



A swarm of advanced and affordable nanosatellites for a coordinated
science mission demonstration.

Source: NASA.

The culmination of the digital revolution is "flying these smartphones and other systems that have amazing computational power, ridiculously low power consumer, and are insanely inexpensive," Frost said.

"I see the revolution in electronics as being the thing that has most fundamentally transformed what we can do and what we will be able to do in the future," Frost said. "There are other things coming along that will be very exciting and powerful, but I don't know that they will dominate the landscape the way microelectronics can."

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