Satellite designer and manufacturer AST SpaceMobile has shared that its direct-to-cell satellite, the BlueWalker 3, which launched in September on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, has been successfully deployed. The update is considered a critical step in delivering space-powered 5G broadband service.
The satellite has a 693-square-foot antenna, which is the largest array that has ever been deployed in low Earth orbit, according to AST SpaceMobile. The BlueWalker 3 is AST’s second test satellite and is just a taste of the 168 satellites, called BlueBirds, the company is hoping to ultimately launch. AST says it can build up to six of these satellites a month at its Texas manufacturing facility, and that global coverage should be reached once about 110 are in orbit.