back to article This weekend: First ever iPADS IN SPAAAACE

NASA will be streaming the live launch of a Russian Progress cargo spaceship this Saturday at 11pm BST, which will be carrying the precious cargo of food, oxygen, water and Apple iPads. The launch is scheduled for 5:11am CDT from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will be broadcast on NASA TV, which you can find here. In …

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entertainment only?

Not that there aren't plenty of "entertaining" uses for an iPad -- movies, videos, gaming, reading -- but, still, haven't any programmers at NASA or Roscosmos been working on specialized iPad apps that the crews can use for tapping into the ISS network for things like accessing databases, remotely checking the status of experiment racks, updating cargo manifests, stuff like that? Sounds like that'd be a really excellent way to integrate the pads into ISS workflow management. Well, at least we've got another "2001" prediction come true: space station crewmen using a Newspad, or something like it.

But, what's the deal with the iPhones? I can totally dig having an iPod with me if I were a long-haul ISS crewman, but an iPhone? What the hell would I do with a mobile phone, when the ISS already has a ship-wide intercom network -- unless they're already running some kind of specialized apps on them, or perhaps have them tied into the intercom system?

Hell, for that matter, I'd be surprised if no engineers at NASA or Roscosmos aren't working on a way to repurpose iPhone or iPad hardware to replace the hard-copy "cuff book" checklists that astronauts have strapped to their wrists during EVA work. The things already have a gesture-driven UI; wouldn't they just have to write an app that downloads procedure checklists for a specific EVA so the astronauts can just "flip" through the pages...?

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Happy

@Mike Flugennock

"Hell, for that matter, I'd be surprised if no engineers at NASA or Roscosmos aren't working on a way to repurpose iPhone or iPad hardware to replace the hard-copy "cuff book" checklists that astronauts have strapped to their wrists during EVA work. The things already have a gesture-driven UI; wouldn't they just have to write an app that downloads procedure checklists for a specific EVA so the astronauts can just "flip" through the pages...?"

Funny you should say that.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27185.0

The referenced pdf goes into some detail.

Warning. Slow to load and "chewy".

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So is that the end of the charmingly named SPOC [I suppose its ISOC there] or will they just be playing Angry Birds?

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Up?

How does an iPad know which way up it is on space?

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Define "entertainment"

Da Mickaïl, now be havink pretty tabletsky. Be fondlink zat and lettink go of ze box of tissues.

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In space no-one can hear you

go look its got this really neat feature here somewhere hang on let me just get the wifi back and I'll show you no wait

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Alien

Is it patentable?

I wonder if you can patent a device* that provides something or other* and is controlled by something or other* in the shape of something or other* while being in a reduced or zero-gravity environment.

This could be the foundation of Apple's monopoly in the whole universe!

*Deliberate imprecision to impede circumvention.

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Just wondering...

Does the accelerometer work in space?

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Space hardened?

What about radiation, would it not do strange things to yonder iPad?

Just a thought, I dont know enough to elaborate..

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If there was radiation about, probably, but there is other stuff on board that isn't hardened against radiation.

Like the humans.

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Anonymous Coward

Station 'nauts get fondleslabs 'for entertainment'

A tacit admission that they really are for people with a lot of free time on their hands?

Okay so I'm not about to turn down a free iPad, but I just don't get the point of them. I used to have a Gameboy (under 18s please Google it) for much the same reason, but then I stopped being a teenager. Maybe I'm completely off base here and they will turn out to be a vital business tool of the future - but most people I've seen with them are using it to play angry birds on a bigger screen. Perhaps I'm just on the way to becoming a grumpy old man.

Mines the one with the 8 bit teris cartridge in the pocket

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Oh gawd...

That's gonna play havoc with the physics model of Angry birds.

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Coat

They better not have angry birds on there, or they aren't getting ANY work done!

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Trollface

I hate to think...

... what their bill for roaming charges will be like...!

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FAIL

fanboi alert

"In amongst all the necessary stuff the current International Space Station crew needs will be the first fondleslabs in space."

Makes it sound like the ipad is essential for the crew. Not.

/me hits the fanboi alert button

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Trollface

"They're going to be used for entertainment purposes only"

"Entertainment only"? Oh dear, Cupertino is not going to be pleased.

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Linux

How is it supposed to be entertaining? It can't even pr0.....I mean flash video.

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I thought rockets were fast

So it takes off at around 11pm on 29th October, and is expected to dock at 1:15 on November 2nd, that's a little over 75 hours (clocks go back 2am on 30th Oct) to reach an object that's around 200 miles up.

It didn't take much longer for Apollo 11 to reach the moon...

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Boffin

Re: I thought rockets were fast

They are... The problem is that they are potentially TOO fast.

You don't simply aim your launch for where the target will be when the rocket gets there. If you're off by a scooch one way or another, or if there is a ,malfunction, you could have two large bodies trying to occupy the same space at the same time with widely differing relative velocities.

Much safer is to put your launch into an ALMOST identical orbit with an initial insertion point well away from your target and wait for the slightly different orbital speeds to bring the two objects together.

Think of it as a relay race: The baton carrier is already "in orbit" when the next runner starts running ahead and a bit slower, allowing the carrier to catch up at a relatively modest speed differential and make the hand-off.

...or was that intended as a joke...? I'm never good at telling these things...

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Happy

Forward planning?

Interesting - having made gear that's been sent skywards, there's one hell of a lot of documentation that needs to be done before any space agency will ship a chunk of gear up there to check that the materials used are safe and don't use materials that will out-gas or otherwise cause problems. Either someone had done a lot of work in a short period of time or else Apple are thinking ahead when they build these things and planning for flight certification on the drawing board.

I wonder if some enterprising Astronaut will reenact the iPad scene from 2001?

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No escape

Even astronauts have to be force-fed their proprietary crap.

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WTF?

An iPhone?

In LEO? I can barely get a signal from WIND (Italy) on a good day, thanks to the cruel and unusual geography around here; Codd only knows what kind of signal they get up there!

I demand to know which telecoms service provider they're using, and what their monthly contract fee is. I think we should be told!

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Joke

NASA was interested in looking into their future use in space.

Kubrick put them in space 43 years ago.

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Only for entertainment...

Right!

As was said on the Simpsons: "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it".

It is only a matter of time when they upload an app to make something work.

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Coat

Angry Birds won't work

Without gravity, the birds will never be able to hit any pigs, unless the pigs are located at a higher elevation.

Roxio should immediately design a few 'pigs in spaaace' levels to rectify this.

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angry birds in space

sad to admit it - but there is a level on the moon .....

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JDX
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iPhone?

Surely it won't get any reception?

<mong>just like on Earth</mong>

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Anonymous Coward

Why do they have an iPhone on the ISS? A Touch is understandable, but an iPhone?

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Coat

You can't buy publicity like this.....

.. or maybe you can.

Has no one heard of product placement?

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iPad is NOT the first tablet in space.

iPad the first tablet in space? No.

The PaceBook, developed by PaceBlade, is a MS Windows tablet uses aboard the ISS on the ARED exercising equipment.

The PaceBook was developed in Taiwan by a small team of local and European people. I was one of them ;-)

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Joke

Simple

They will triple the stations computing capacity.

Seriously the ISS control network uses a bunch of Shuttle derived Multiplexer/Demultiplexers. The Shuttle MDM's are dumb but some of the ISS ones use 386s.

But as others have pointed out certifying electronic to work on ISS is *very* complex (IIRC batteries are especially troublesome) so how they managed to two on board so fast is a bit of a mystery.

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Joke

Apple iPads? But we ordered a few kg of Granny Smiths!!

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TRT
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Mind you... It'd be fun seeing what happened to Apps using Location Services.

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TRT
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FAIL

Let's see...

Connect to WiFi network.... oh, nothing, never mind... 3G carri... Ah.

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Not sure how to interpret this

"They are hoping to be able to fly one or more of them next year, but as yet the evaluation is not complete."

a) Health & Safety gone mad with a piece of plastic without even moving parts, or

b) Chronic engineering thinking block if it's taking them years to figure out how to send the said piece of plastic into space when they routinely manage to launch laptops, bog replacement parts and piss-to-water converters, or

c) NASA BOFH team wanting to maximise their fondling time with Uncle Sam-procured and paid-for eyeBads.

So, which one is it?

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Siri - "I don't know what you mean by 'Open the pod bay doors.'"

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entertainment only?

I imagine it is for entertainment only while they access how it performs on the ISS. Once they are satisfied it performs without unexpected errors they can look at making it a piece of support equipment.

NASA doesn't use anything just off the shelf - needs proper testing first.

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Facepalm

Orientation

Doesn't the ipad use the accelerometers to determine screen orientation by measuring the umm.... force of gravity.

Good thing the astronauts have been trained by being spun round and round very fast, otherwise space porn is going to get messy, and not in a good way.

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Clue here is

the "accelero-", which means it measures any acceleration, not just the one due to the force of gravity. So if you tap it on one side it will orient itself quite easily.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm guessing the iphone they already have actually has a signal being as it's right next to the satelitte.

Now if they can improve things on earth there's a chance they might be able to recieve calls too.

-I am somewhat relieved to learn they aren't taking an iPhone 4s, that 2 tons of fuel probably wouldn't last very long if they did.

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