In low Earth orbit, the Texas-based company AST SpaceMobile’s test satellite Bluewalker 3 deployed the largest commercial communications array ever flown in space, the company said on Monday. The satellite was launched in September aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The 64 square metre (693 square foot) array is made to directly offer cellular devices with 5G broadband access using 3GPP standard frequencies. The satellite might have a field of vision of more than 300,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface, according to the press release.
“Regardless of where they reside or where they work, everyone should have the ability to access cellphone broadband. Our objective is to address the connectivity gaps that have a detrimental effect on billions of lives worldwide, “In a statement, AST SpaceMobile’s chairman and chief executive officer, Abel Avellan, said.
“The successful deployment of BlueWalker 3 is a significant step forward for our proprietary space-based cellular broadband technology and sets the door for further manufacture of our BlueBird satellites,” he said.
A test program to begin across six continents
According to AST SpaceMobile, it has “agreements and understandings” with mobile network operators including Vodafone Group, AT&T, Orange, Africell, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, Bell Canada, and others. “Offer extended cellular broadband coverage to their customers who live, work, and travel in places with poor or non-existent cell coverage, with the goal of eliminating dead zones with cellular internet from space,” the company aims.
“We want to address coverage gaps in our markets, particularly in places where the terrain makes traditional ground-based networks extremely difficult to reach,” said Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s head of group R&D and an AST SpaceMobile director.
According to the statement, AST SpaceMobile will commence a test programme spanning six continents with some of the aforementioned network providers over the next several months, as long as it continues to secure the required regulatory permits.
One of the brightest objects in the sky
Previously, astronomers expressed concerns about the massive phased array and the forthcoming Bluebird constellation, which would reflect sunlight to Earth, generating blinding streaks across astronomical photographs and distorting with scientific data. BlueWalker 3 was predicted by some experts to become one of the brightest things in the night sky.
According to astronomer Cees Bassa’s tweet, the satellite’s enormous antenna unfurled, making it one of the brighter objects in the sky as it passed by.
Initial observations show that BlueWalker 3 is brilliant, although it is not nearly as bright as the worst-case scenario. Paul Maley of Carefree, Arizona, reported seeing it four mornings in a row to SpaceWeather.com. It has been roughly as bright as a star of the first magnitude star, he said.