Androids in space? Google launches phones into orbit

Google’s new Nexus S smartphone has launched.

Literally.

To celebrate the release of the Nexus S, Google employees constructed seven hobbyist-style air balloons, each containing a phone, and sent them into orbit.

In a company blog post chronicling the nerdy stunt, Google’s Zi Wang wrote that the project was intended to help test some of the hardware sensors in the phone. But that could just be a front to convince their bosses they weren’t goofing off.

Or it could be related to a project Wang mentioned in an interview with New Scientist last week. Google is in talks with a UK satellite manufacturer about contributing the core technology in the Nexus S to help build small satellites, according to that report.

“The phone is powerful enough,” Wang told the science publication.

Google says it recovered all seven capsules from the test run. At least one of those reached higher than 100,000 feet (more than 20 miles).

The phones stopped functioning at 60,000 feet — about twice as high as most planes fly. Not bad for being in space without a helmet.

Google says the phones started working again on descent.

The company posted several videos about the project on YouTube.

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