Attracting the next generation

PhoneSat Stand at 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire

PhoneSat Stand at 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire

In Aviation Week Michael Mecham reports the world’s university students come to work at Ames, which takes a leadership role in several areas for NASA, including smallsats, astrobiology and super computing.

“We have lots of internationals,” says NASA Ames Research Director Peter Wooden, referring to his young talent pool. “This is where opportunity comes for them. The ideas are what matters. It’s not your nationality.”

That opportunity arises because they stand such a good chance of getting their hands on a project like the PhoneSat-1/-2, a pair of cubesat-sized (10 cm square) nanosats due for launch Apr. 17 out of Wallops Island on an Antares, the new commercial launcher from Orbital Sciences.

The big deal about the PhoneSats is that they use the computing guts of smart phones bought at a big box store. They’re early tests of a low-risk, low-cost approach to satellite manufacturing that emphasizes the exploitation of off-the-shelf materials without a lot of fuss about whether they are “space proven.”

Worden says the aim is to arrive at the day when anyone with an idea can find a way onto a satellite by developing a “satellite app.”

Read the Aviation Week story by Michael Mecham at

Aviation Week

All three PhoneSats will be transmitting on 437.425 MHz. TLE’s and further information should be available at