AST SpaceMobile, the company building the first space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones, has signed an agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corp. for the launch of its next prototype spacecraft, BlueWalker 3.
BlueWalker 3 is expected to launch aboard a SpaceX mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in March 2022. The spacecraft has an aperture of 693 square feet and is designed to communicate directly with cell phones via 3GPP standard frequencies.
Scott Wisniewski, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of AST SpaceMobile, said: “We’re pleased to launch with US-based SpaceX, which allows us to deploy BlueWalker 3 from our own backyard. The spacecraft will be the second prototype to leverage our patented technology.”
AST SpaceMobile’s mission is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by 5bn mobile subscribers moving in and out of coverage zones, and bring cellular broadband to approximately half of the world’s population who remain unconnected.
Partners in this effort are global wireless infrastructure companies, including Rakuten, Vodafone and American Tower. As of June 30, 2021, AST SpaceMobile has entered into agreements and understandings with mobile network operators which collectively cover approximately 1.4bn mobile subscribers.