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India launches first smartphone into space

India's STRaND-1, a nano-satellite, successfully carried a smartphone into space.

India smartphone space satellite feb 2013Enlarge
People in a field watch as an Indian communication satellite GSAT-12 onboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-17 blasts off from the spaceport in Sriharikota on July 15, 2011. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI, India — India succeeded in launching the first smartphone into space when the STRaND-1, a nano-satellite, carried a phone loaded with apps into orbit on Monday.

The mission was designed to test commercial technologies in space, said The Times of India.

The British-built spacecraft was launched from Sriharikota in India, according to The Daily Mail. The program was led by scientists from the University of Surrey's Surrey Space Center and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

The satellite will be guided by a Google Nexus One Android smartphone which acts as the "brain." The phone has been tested to work in a vacuum and at temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This launch is SSTL's first with ISRO, and I am looking forward to exploring opportunities for further launches and a wider collaboration on space projects in the future," said Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, SSC Director and Executive Chairman of SSTL, according to Indian newspaper Deccan Herald.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Jason Overdorf reported from Delhi that India's space program is frequently targeted for criticism by outsiders who can't see why a country with so many people living in poverty should spend money to build rockets.

From the beginning, India's space junkies have had to justify their budgets by delivering practical benefits to the people, so the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) invested hundreds of millions of dollars in space programs that would help farmers and fishermen -- locating fish hotspots by satellite and broadcasting the locations over state-owned All India Radio, for instance.

Better still, it's done it for about $500 million per satellite -- about a tenth of the amount spent by the US and European countries. And at least one study by the Madras School of Economics suggests that the country has gotten $2 in return for every $1 invested in the program.

With the launch of seven satellites on Monday, India once again confirmed its status as a major player in the commercial satellite launch business. So far, India has launched 35 foreign satellites since 1999.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130227/india-launches-first-smartphone-space