Satellite-to-mobile trials of BlueWalker 3 to start after successful launch
BlueWalker 3, the satellite due to test mobile phone services from space for remote parts of the world, is now in orbit.
American Tower, AT&T, Nokia, Orange, Rakuten Mobile, Vodafone and others are expected to take part in the trials to see whether low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites can fill gaps in coverage and work with standard mobile phones.
“BlueWalker 3 is on course and securely circling the earth,” said Scott Wisniewski, chief strategy officer of AST SpaceMobile, the company behind the project that is now worth US$1.86 billion on Nasdaq.
“The satellite is thermally stable and communicating directly with ground stations. Our team is now operating from three global mission control centres, including Maryland, Colorado and Australia, where we are directly receiving data from BlueWalker 3.”
The satellite was successfully launched (pictured) by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Engineers made contact with BlueWalker 3 less than an hour after take-off, confirming its trajectory.
“A major achievement in our mission to connect the unconnected has been accomplished,” said Abel Avellan, chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile. “We are working hard to ensure that no one becomes a second-class citizen, regardless of where they live or work, because of their lack of access to cellular broadband.”
AST SpaceMobile said it has agreements and understandings with over 25 mobile network operators globally, which collectively provide service to over 1.8 billion subscribers.
Once BlueWalker 3 is operational following in-orbit testing and configuration, testing is planned with mobile operators and equipment providers “on all six inhabited continents”, said the company.