Pocket PC Headed to the Moon

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TransOrbital is going to send a spaceship to the Moon in the near future and a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ h5550 will be aboard it. The company’s TrailBlazer spacecraft is the first commercial mission to gain approval from U.S. authorities to explore, photograph, and land on the Moon

Artist Concept of Electra Lander TransOrbital is working on three lunar missions. TrailBlazer is designed to be an inexpensive precursor probe. It is essentially a flying camera platform, carrying high-resolution video cameras. Electra will be the first commercial lunar lander, capable of delivering up to 10 kg of payload to the Moon’s surface. Electra II will be a lander with small robotic rovers.

With an early 2004 launch date for TrailBlazer approaching, TransOrbital looked to the Wi-Fi enabled h5550 to facilitate wireless communication within the satellite. The handheld device will integrate with the TrailBlazer systems on board the spacecraft to enable TransOrbital to synchronize and share data while in space, during transit to the Moon, and while orbiting the Moon.

During subsequent launches, it is anticipated that the Pocket PCs will be used for wireless communication with cameras that are tethered on the outside of the spacecraft to provide video streaming capabilities for display on Earth. Future applications for the devices also may include the ability to communicate via e-mail with the spacecraft while it is orbiting the Moon and on the Moon’s surface.

“HP is a leader in providing technologies that work to improve the mobile experience, whether on Earth or on a spacecraft traveling to the Moon,” said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president and general manager, mobile computing group, HP Personal Systems Group. “We are very excited that TransOrbital is about to include affordable, innovative HP products, such as our iPAQ Pocket PCs, to enhance this first commercial flight to the Moon.”

TransOrbital’s first Moon mission will provide HDTV (high definition TV) views of equipment left behind from past Apollo and Russian landings. The mission also will deliver a time capsule containing personal cargo from Earth, including personal messages and artifacts. Media collected during the mission, including a “barnstorming” video filmed as the capsule reaches the lunar surface, will provide TransOrbital with an array of content vital to future scientific and exploratory endeavors, as well as educational and entertainment uses.

In December 2002, TransOrbital successfully launched a test lunar satellite into earth orbit using the International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras Dnepr rocket. TransOrbital also will use the ISC Dnepr rocket for the Moon launch.

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