STRaND-1 Smartphone CubeSat to launch end of February

STRaND-1 and team - image credit SSTL

STRaND-1 and team – Image credit SSTL

The BBC report that the world’s first “smartphone-sat” STRaND-1 is ready to launch at the end of February. The satellite was built in Guildford by volunteers from the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in their spare time. It is planned to be launched on February 25 into a 785 km orbit by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on the PSLV-CA (PSLV-C20) rocket.

Dr Chris Bridges working on STRaND

Dr Chris Bridges working on STRaND-1

The innovative STRaND-1 CubeSat will carry a Google Nexus One Android smartphone into space to demonstrate the feasibility of using cheap smartphone electronics to control a spacecraft.

Smartphones contain highly advanced technologies and incorporate several key features that are integral to a satellite – such as cameras, radio links, accelerometers and high performance computer processors – almost everything a spacecraft needs except the solar panels and propulsion.

There will be an amateur radio AX.25 packet radio downlink on 437.568 MHz using a data rates of 9k6 bps.

STRaND-1 flight ready February 2013 with Shaun Kenyon, Dr Peter Shaw, Dr Chris Bridges

STRaND-1 flight ready February 2013 with Shaun Kenyon, Dr Peter Shaw, Dr Chris Bridges

Further information on STRaND-1 at

Watch the videos in the STRaND-1 video archive

Read the BBC News story at

The world’s first smartphone in Space ‘STRaND-1’ ready for launch

Dr Chris Bridges talked about STRaND-1 on the BBC Radio 4 show Material World broadcast on Thursday, February 7. A recording can be heard until February 14 at The STRaND-1 segment starts 08:55 into the recording.

STRaND-1 on Facebook

You can follow STRaND at

Smartphone and Kinect Satellite Presentations at Guildford

Dr Christopher Bridges (2nd from left) discussing why space is cool on Sky News

Dr Chris Bridges recently appeared on the nationwide TV channel Sky News discussing why space is cool. On September 15-16 he will be giving two presentations to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ.

Chris will cover the Nexus Android Smartphone amateur radio satellite STRaND-1 which will carry both a Resistojet and a Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) module and STRaND-2 which comprises two 3U CubeSats that will use Microsoft Xbox Kinect controller technology for docking.

UPDATE: For videos of the two STRaND presentations see

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Surrey Satellite to put Xbox parts in space

Surrey-based researchers are to build Xbox Kinect hardware into twin satellites in an auto-docking experiment.

The microsatellites, to be called STRaND-2, are being developed by University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), with the Kinect providing its 3D laser scanner.

CubeSat is a mechanical standard for miniature satellites. In this case, the spacecraft will be ‘3U’ CubeSats each measuring 10x10x30cm and weighing under 4kg.

“Docking systems have never been employed on such small and low cost missions and are usually reserved for big-budget space missions to the International Space Station or historically, the Mir space station and the Apollo programme,” said SSTL.

They will dock many times, initially with ground intervention, then increasingly automatically.

SSTL’s speciality, through extensive testing, is selecting commercial electronic hardware which can be used in space – STRaND-2’s scanners will come out of actual Kinects.

Inspiration for the flight came from an experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where a tiny helicopter equipped with Kinect hardware was used to scan rooms as it flew through them, allowing a 3D model of the environment to be built, said SSTL project leader Shuan Kenyon.

The University of Surrey and SSTL team has already developed STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator), and was looking for a further challenge.

STRaND-1, another 3U CubeSat, will famously carry a mobile phone into orbit and send data direct to schools.

STRaND-1 is also one of the most manoeuvrable small satellites ever built, with eight micro-thrusters providing rotation in three axes as well as lateral movement in two dimensions. A separate gas jet provides thrust in the third linear dimension.

If two similar satellites can be made to dock, the team is proposing larger self-assembling structures made of many, perhaps dozens, of CubeSats.

“It may seem far-fetched, but our low cost nanosatellites could dock to build large and sophisticated modular structures such as space telescopes,” said Surrey university project head Dr Chris Bridges. “Unlike today’s big space missions, these could be reconfigured as mission objectives change, and upgraded in orbit with the latest available technologies.”

“I think by STRaND-4, we should be able to build the USS Enterprise,” quipped Kenyon.

Other ideas include using small mobile scanning satellites to inspect larger spacecraft.

‘Kinect’ STRaND-2 at UK Space Agency Conference

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