The iPhone is making its first flight on the space shuttle, but its being joined by its long-time rival the Android, from Google.

NASA astronauts took Apple's venerable iPhone into space to help with experiments aboard the International Space Station.

Using software from Odyssey Space Research, the iPhone is helping astronauts track their scientific data and designed with the phones unique attributes in mind: namely e gyro, accelerometer, cameras and chip. The app, called SpaceLab for iOS, is even available to Earthbound smartphone users.

This could have been a distinct hallmark for the phone, giving it a unique pedigree among smartphones as truly elite.

But long-time friend turned recent arch-rival Samsung also scored a ride into space, and those phones could arguably be doing something even more significant.

Using the Nexus S Android phone was sent along to help out with some on-going research on the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), which the astronauts aboard the ISS use daily to perform a wide number of tasks.

By connecting a smartphone, we can immediately make SPHERES more intelligent, said lead engineer of NASA's Intelligent Robotics Group, DW Wheeler.

With a smartphone, the SPHERES will have a built-in camera to take pictures and video, sensors to help conduct inspections, a powerful computing unit to make calculations, and a Wi-Fi connection that we will use to transfer data in real-time to the space station and mission control.

The experiment will use the smartphone-enhanced SPHERES as remotely operated robots to conduct survey's on the inside of the space station and capture a number of multimedia.

This will free up astronauts to work on other things, letting the phone calculate inventories, and other mundane tasks.

With Apple and Samsung gearing up for a flag-ship battle between the new iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S2, each can now claim the merits of space.