Developer's dream: Androids...in space!

Concerned that U.S. space exploration might not be progressing apace, Danny Pier wants to send a smartphone into space to snap pictures and collect location data.

Danny Pier wants to send a smartphone into space. An Android smartphone.

Why? Well, because. Also, he is concerned that U.S. space exploration might not be progressing apace. His parents and grandparents got to witness an astronaut land on the moon, while Pier, 25, worries that he will have to wait until 2035 to see a man step on an extraterrestrial surface (Mars, according to plans laid out by President Obama ).

Astdroid Project screenshot
Screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

So while Piers waits for middle age, he wants to try shipping the first smartphone into the stratosphere as a symbol of his belief in the importance of the space race. Preferably, that phone will be his HTC Evo 4.

"Great phone," he says. "I think it's meant for something greater."

The phone would be attached to a helium-filled weather balloon, which should, if all goes according to plan, burst at its maximum altitude and be easily recovered via location information logged by the phone and sent Earth-ward. The handset would also take pictures and video.

The end goal of the "Astdroid Project," Pier says, is "to have a stable Android application that has been proven to aid in getting a smartphone high into the atmosphere, taking pictures and video along the way, and subsequently retrieved."

Pier--a Denver software engineer who created the browser extension TwitterEyes --is currently seeking financial backers to help pay for Astdroid Project materials, with different contribution levels yielding various rewards.

For a pledge of $5, for example, your name will show up online and in the Astdroid application. And so on, up to $150, which also nets you an 8x10 photo taken from an Astdroid flight, the Astroid app, plus a weather balloon, recovery parachute, and other materials needed (excluding helium) to replicate the smartphone-in-space project if you are so inclined. Who knows? Maybe he will even follow NASA's lead and send your mug into space along with the smartphone.

Pier says he will blog the project as it progresses, as well as share video, and, if possible, use UStream for live launches, and maybe even live video from the craft itself. And yes, phones may be harmed in the making of this project.

 

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