AST SpaceMobile has confirmed its plans to launch its BlueWalker 3 test satellite from Cape Canaveral, FL during the week of August 15, 2022.
The actual launch date remains subject to change and is contingent on a number of factors including, but not limited to, final testing, final integration, ground transport, timely readiness of the launch vehicle and other unknowns including, but not limited to, weather conditions or technical problems.
BlueWalker 3 carries a 693-square-foot phased array that is designed to test cellular broadband communications directly with standard mobile phones, from space, for the first time. AST SpaceMobile has invested approximately $85m in the satellite’s development and the company’s engineers have successfully conducted more than 800 ground tests with BlueWalker 3. To date, the company has over 2,300 patent and patent-pending claims in support of its technology. The BlueWalker 3 mission is expected to complete the company’s initial research and development programme and facilitate integration testing with mobile network operators around the world.
Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, said: “The launch of BlueWalker 3 is the culmination of years of effort by our engineers to let us test connecting the phone in your pocket, with no modifications to the phone, directly with one of our satellites in space. This revolutionary technology supports our mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by more than 5bn mobile subscribers today moving in and out of coverage, and bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world’s population who remain unconnected. We want to close the gap between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted AST SpaceMobile an experimental license that allows the company to test BlueWalker 3 satellite-to-phone connectivity in the United States at sites in Texas and Hawaii. Once BlueWalker 3 is operational, the company plans to conduct testing on five different continents, in coordination with leading mobile network operators like Vodafone, Rakuten Mobile, Orange and others.