Direct-to-phone internet: AST SpaceMobile makes deployment changes ahead of satellite launch
AST SpaceMobile has changed its orbital inclination ahead of its satellite launch. The company says this will improve its overall coverage.
AST SpaceMobile, a Texas-based satellite designing and manufacturing company, is gearing up to launch its series of five satellites that will kick-start its satellite-based cellular broadband internet service that can directly be accessed through smartphones. The company has now made some last-minute changes to its deployment strategy, which as per the company, is being done to improve the coverage area of the satellites. The launch timeline, which is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024, is not likely to be delayed by this change.
According to a report by Space News, AST SpaceMobile is paying 5 million dollars more to SpaceX to carry out these latest changes ahead of its deployment. SpaceX will be carrying its BlueBird satellites on its Falcon 9 rocket to the lower Earth orbit (LEO) and placing them there. As per the report, the satellites will be placed at a higher inclination of 53 degrees in the orbit. This will allow the satellites to cover a region between 59 degrees north and 59 degrees south of the hemisphere.
AST SpaceMobile to launch its satellites soon
As per the company, the five BlueBird satellites are expected to be enough to provide intermittent connectivity services. It is expected that once AST SpaceMobile has collected enough data and confirmed the efficiency of the system, more satellites will follow. As per data shared by the firm, the BlueBird satellites weigh around 1,500 kg, which is the same size as its BlueWalker 3 satellites. It is also in talks to get more commercial satellites that can weigh up to 50 percent more than the current models.
The company CEO Abel Avellan has said in the past that about 90 BlueBird satellites in the lower Earth orbit will be necessary to provide its planned 5G services which will include both voice and data plans.
“The company has agreements and understandings with more than 35 mobile network operators globally that have approximately 2 billion existing subscribers,” he earlier said.
India is also on AST SpaceMobile's radar. The company is expected to offer its services in India through its partnered carrier Vodafone.