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AST SpaceMobile Blue Walker 3 Satellite Reaches Orbit 

By Rachel Jewett | September 12, 2022

      SpaceX Launches the AST SpaceMobile Blue Walker 3 Satellite on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo via AST SpaceMobile

      AST SpaceMobile test satellite, BlueWalker 3 has reached orbit after SpaceX launched the satellite on Saturday. The anticipated satellite test AST SpaceMobile’s satellite direct-to-cell technology. 

      SpaceX launched BlueWalker 3 along with a batch of 34 Starlink satellites from Cape Canaveral on Sunday evening. The Falcon 9 rocket took off at  9:20 p.m from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

      “BlueWalker 3 is comfortably roaming around the globe, thermally stable and communicating with our ground stations!” AST SpaceMobile CEO Abel Avellan confirmed on Twitter after the launch. 

      BlueWalker 3 has the largest commercial phased array ever deployed to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), at 693 square feet. After the satellite is operational, it will perform direct-to-phone in-orbit testing with AST SpaceMobile’s mobile network operator partners including Vodafone, Rakuten Mobile, and Orange. 

      This launch compes as there is increasing momentum around cellular direct-to-satellite connectivity. SpaceX recently announced that the second generation of Starlink satellites will be able to connect T-Mobile’s subscribers in remote locations to fill gaps in T-Mobile’s network, and Apple announced last week that the iPhone 14 will be able to send emergency messages via satellite using Globalstar connectivity.