A smartphone has been blasted into orbit from India by a team of researchers from the University of Surrey. They hope to use a purpose-built app to test the theory, immortalised in the film Alien, that "in space no-one can hear you scream".
The phone will play out several of the screams submitted by people online. The test will monitor the durability of standard commercial components in space. It will also test two new innovative propulsion systems.
The first - named Warp Drive (Water Alcohol Resisto-jet Propulsion De-orbit Re-entry Velocity Experiment) - uses the ejection of a water-alcohol mixture to provide thrust. The second technology is pulsed plasma thrusters. These use an electric current to heat and evaporate a material, producing a charged gas that can then be accelerated in one direction in a magnetic field to push the satellite in the other direction.
The mission will see the so-called "smartphone-sat" - a world first - orbit the Earth for six months. Weighing 4.3 kg (9.5lbs) and measuring 10cm by 30cm (4in by 12in), the satellite has been developed by the University of Surrey's Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL). "This mission is a fantastic achievement and a great tribute to the hard work of the engineers involved," said Sir Martin Sweeting, director of SSC, and also executive chairman of SSTL.
At first, the Strand-1 satellite will be controlled by a standard onboard computer, but in phase two of the mission, a Google Nexus phone will take the reins - equipped with a number of special apps.