October 15, 2015
The text message appeared on Aaron Bush's smart watch right on time — 31/2 minutes after a rudimentary device he and classmates had engineered lifted off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
It was only a single letter, but what was important was how it was relayed. The students at Capitol Technology University in Laurel were communicating with an Android smartphone flown to the edge of space.
What started as a class project led to this test to prove the concept for a new and simple way to control a spacecraft from the ground — without sophisticated radio communications systems. Instead, it's based on the same Wi-Fi and cellular technology that connects phones and tablets around the world.