June 10, 2011
For many, the NASA Space Shuttle program has represented the modernization of a publicly-consumable Space Age, and the last mission (Atlantis, STS-135) is sure to bring its storied history back to the forefront as we all say goodbye. That said, I personally think the Shuttle program was a fantastic waste of money and vision, which makes it all the more ironic that its final flight will take a pair of iPhone 4s into orbit for use aboard the International Space Station. Devices so affordable and forward-thinking going up as such a wasteful, philosophical dead-end goes down couldn't be any more poetically appropriate. Anyways, on the tech side of things, the two iPhones are going to run a custom-made app called SpaceLab for iOS that, according to Cult of Mac,
will be used for space research... [and] will remain on the ISS for several months for the crew to conduct a series of experiments. ...Among other things, the app will help ISS astronauts find their relative position [in] space by matching pictures of the Earth taken with the iPhone’s camera to a database of coastline maps in the app.While the notion that an iPhone app could possibly be necessary for any actual research or data-gathering aboard a $2 billion vehicle underscores my views of the Shuttle program in general, the information will at least be collected and eventually distributed to the currently-available "terrestrial" version of SpaceLab. If you want try it out for yourself, SpaceLab for iOS is available for $0.99 on iTunes and runs simulated, zero-G experiments with features "identical to the version" to be flown in space.
SpaceLab for iOS
Odyssey Space Research, L.L.C.