Ever try a FaceTime from space? Astronauts on board the space shuttle mission STS-135, tentatively scheduled for a July 8 launch, will be bringing along two Apple stowaways for the nearly 220-mile trip up to the International Space Station (ISS). Two iPhone 4 smartphones will join the four-astronaut crew for the final voyage of NASA's three-decade-long space shuttle program, carried into the stars via the institution's orbiter Atlantis.

And, no, the astronauts aren't just looking to figure out the effects of weightlessness on their Angry Birds games. Nor will they actually use the phones to make any calls—the "phone" features of the iPhone 4s have been disabled for the voyage. Odyssey Space Research has actually constructed a custom SpaceLab for iOS app, which will allow astronauts to perform four different experiments while onboard the ISS:

1. A "Limb Tracker," which will allow astronauts to estimate their altitude by taking photographs of the Earth and using an overlay image to match an arc to the horizon.

2. A sensor calibration experiment that combines information from references images with the iPhone's sensor readings to better calibrate the device's gyroscope and accelerometer.

3. An experiment that uses reference images and sensor readings to estimate a spacecraft's position. The estimation is generated, "by manipulating and matching a wireframe overlay of the Earth's coastlines to the acquired Earth image(s)."

4. Tests to see how radiation affects the iPhone 4 in general, which astronauts will check by monitoring the device's memory for unintended changes caused by radiation exposure.

"The potential for using iPhone 4 to both conduct and support in-space research and operations is enormous," said Odyssey CEO Brian Rishikof in a statement. "The opportunity to make the experience accessible to anyone via the App Store will attract a new generation of space supporters."

Those interested in checking out the app the astronauts will be using can download SpaceLab for iOS from the App Store for $0.99. The only difference in this version of the app, versus the version used by astronauts, is that certain experiments have been simulated to account for Earth's gravity–far less of an issue for those flying around the stars.

The iPhones will be packaged within NanoRack's NanoLab, a microgravity research platform scheduled to be delivered to the ISS. They'll make their return voyage to Earth later this fall on the Russian Soyuz vehicle. Researchers intend to pore over the experiments' flight data and share the resulting information with educators, scientists, and space enthusiasts alike.

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