NASA Pioneers Build Your Own Satellite (BYOS)

The smartphone is actually a very high-tech and sophisticated device for the regular consumer to own and carry around, at least according to NASA, America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Think about it – a regular smartphone offers a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios.

This makes it possible to build a nano satellite based on smartphone technology alone and this resulted in NASA’s PhoneSat project – using only commercial-off-the-shelf hardware to build the lowest-cost and easiest to build satellites ever flown in space.


By design, each NASA PhoneSat nanosatellite is one standard CubeSat unit in size and weighs less than four pounds. A CubeSat is a miniaturised satellite in the shape of a cube that measures approximately 4 inches (10 cm).


Up to date, two prototypes have been built and tested by NASA. The first version PhoneSat 1.0 was built using HTC Nexus One smartphone which runs on Android. It was tested with criteria to stay alive in space for a short period of time and to send back health status and images generated using the camera under extreme environments.


PhoneSat 1.0 during high

-altitude balloon test

PhoneSat 1.0 – size of a coffee cup

PhoneSat 1.0 assembly


The second version PhoneSat 2.0 was built using Samsung Nexus S smarphone which also runs on Android. Compared to PhoneSat 1.0, version 2 has the capability for faster core processor, avionics and gyroscopes.


PhoneSat 2.0 is considered a success and laid the foundation for future small-sized satellites. NASA has intended to make use of such technology to achieving usage of distributed sensors to conduct Heliophysics missions,qualifying new technologies and components for space flight,conducting low-cost Earth observations and exploring the moon and beyond.


The PhoneSat project is a small spacecraft technology demonstration mission funded by NASA’s Space Technology Program which is managed by the Office of the Chief Technologist. Find out more here at 


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