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  iPhones on the ISS: SpaceLab for iOS App

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Author Topic:   iPhones on the ISS: SpaceLab for iOS App
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-09-2011 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Odyssey Space Research release
Odyssey Space Research Launches SpaceLab for iOS App

App Delivers New Opportunities for Research Aboard the International Space Station

Odyssey Space Research, L.L.C., today announced a space-based, experimental app, dubbed SpaceLab for iOS, which will be used for space research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The SpaceLab for iOS app will make its way to the ISS on an iPhone 4 aboard the orbiter Atlantis on the space shuttle fleet's historic final mission, STS-135, and will remain there for several months for the ISS crew to conduct a series of experiments.

Odyssey also announced it is bringing the astronauts' on-orbit experimental tasks down to earth for "terrestrial" consumers to enjoy via the SpaceLab for iOS app available today from the App Store.

The SpaceLab for iOS app will utilize the features of the iPhone 4, including the three-axis gyro, accelerometer, Retina display, cameras and A4 chip, for space-based research.

The crew will conduct various experiments to collect data which could one day find use in practical applications, such as the recovery of navigation information for a spacecraft that might be "lost in space."

A ground-based user of the SpaceLab for iOS app will be able to conduct the same experiments with certain features simulated to account for the presence of gravity.

"The revolutionary iPhone 4 offers an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate serious functions previously reserved for more expensive, purpose-built devices," said Brian Rishikof, Odyssey's Chief Executive Officer. "The potential for using iPhone 4 to both conduct and support in-space research and operations is enormous. The opportunity to make the experience accessible to anyone via the App Store will attract a new generation of space supporters."

iPhone 4, was certified for spaceflight and is being transported to the ISS on the space shuttle via NanoRacks, LLC of Houston, Texas, who provide low-cost hardware and integration services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the ISS. They will house an iPhone 4 in their NanoLab, a small microgravity research platform destined for the ISS.

"Everyone at NanoRacks is excited about being part of this new chapter in our space program," explains Jeffrey Manber, NanoRacks Managing Director. "Leveraging the innovation of such an iconic consumer product to conduct tasks once reserved for space-only hardware is without a doubt the next step in our utilization of space. Bringing iPhone 4 and Odyssey's technology with us on this final space shuttle mission is symbolic of the new direction of our space program."

With an opportunity for return to Earth on the Russian Soyuz vehicle next fall, actual flight data from the experiments are expected to be collected, analyzed, and shared so that educators, students, scientists and space enthusiasts can recreate the experiments as if onboard the ISS itself.

The SpaceLab for iOS app is available now for $0.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod Touch.

Fezman92
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Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 06-09-2011 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's really cool. I wish I could get that.

garymilgrom
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Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-10-2011 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can buy it (or a version of it) at the App store for 99 cents. I'm downloading it now!

Fezman92
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Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 06-10-2011 09:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't have an iPhone.

cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-10-2011 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fezman92:
I don't have an iPhone.
WHAT? What's wrong with you? Everybody HAS an iPhone! Gee...

I don't have one either and frankly I fail to see why I should be reproducing space experiments on a phone, let alone mine. There are some things I'll never understand.

ejectr
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Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 06-10-2011 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Same reason people build full size replicas of Mercury spacecraft and buy replica spacesuits.

For the absolute FUN of it! Does there have to be any other reason?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-10-2011 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NanoRacks Jeff Manber shared with MSNBC's Alan Boyle some of the changes that were necessary to certify the iPhones for spaceflight.
Beyond the experiments, putting the iPhones on the station will help NASA figure out how best to adapt commercial off-the-shelf devices for use in space, said Jeffrey Manber, managing director of NanoRacks. Manber's company developed the rack-storage system in which the phones and other payloads will be flown.

Manber told me it was "extremely difficult" to get the phones certified for spaceflight.

"It was probably one of the hardest payloads we had," he said. "It's not exactly the same iPhone that you or I would buy."

Rishikof said Odyssey disabled the phone function as well as GPS location capabilities, to streamline the certification process and to avoid running afoul of other space communication channels (including military channels). Even if GPS was enabled, "you're not going to get reception" on the space station, Rishikov said. The iPhones also run off pre-certified external batteries rather than the internal batteries, although that situation may change for future experiments, he said.

Manber estimated that it took four to five months to get the phones certified — which is significantly quicker than NanoRacks' average of nine months. "NASA's not getting enough credit for making the process more commercial-friendly," Manber said.

Boyle also inquired with Odyssey Space Research's Brian Rishikof about changes to the iPhone's software.
He told me iOS operating system was not modified. "We did not 'jailbreak' the phone," he told me. But it wasn't merely a matter of flipping the phones to "airplane mode," either. Rishikof said minor modifications were made in the interest of getting the phones certified for spaceflight in time for launch — modifications that were analogous to, say, yanking a wire. In the future, Odyssey intends to have the iPhone certified for spaceflight as it is, "out of the box," Rishikof said.

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