Two Android-powered Nexus smart phones will form the core of a fleet of low cost experimental NASA mini satellites that the space agency hopes to use eventually in support of space research tasks. The initiative, known as PhoneSat, was established as part of NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program, which aims to promote the development of technologies to expand the capabilities of small spacecraft that weigh less than 220 pounds. Officials at NASA confirmed plans this week to launch two Nexus-powered “nanosatellites”—PhoneSat 1.0 and PhoneSat 2.0—that each weigh less than 10 kilograms and are only slightly larger than a coffee mug. Power for both nanosatellites will be supplied by the smart phones which will also provide the operating systems and communications capabilities for the spacecraft. PhoneSat 1.0, whose mission in space will be to demonstrate its survivability while taking and transmitting pictures of the earth, will carry batteries, a radio beacon and a circuit to monitor the condition of the smart phone. PhoneSat 2.0, meanwhile, will be run on the Samsung Nexus S smart phone and will feature a GPS receiver, solar panels, and a two-way S-band radio to permit engineers to control the spacecraft from the earth. Although a launch date has yet to be set, sources close to NASA anticipate that both satellites will be deployed later this year from Wallops Island, Virginia via the Antares rocket owned by Orbital Sciences Corp. Noting that the total cost of PhoneSat 1.0 is a mere $3,500, and citing NASA’s estimate that the price tag for deploying such spacecraft could be as low as $50,000, observers believe that the prototype PhoneSat nanosatellites could herald a new generation of low-cost space communications gear.