TAMPA, Fla. — AST SpaceMobile said June 13 that SpaceX aims to launch the prototype for its cellphone-compatible broadband constellation in the week of Aug. 15.
The actual launch date is subject to final integration of the BlueWalker 3 test satellite, AST SpaceMobile added, and other factors including the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s readiness and weather.
The launch window announcement comes days after AST SpaceMobile CEO and chair Abel Avellan said BlueWalker 3 had successfully conducted end-to-end tests.
“We also got the satellite fueled for our planned summer launch,” Avellan tweeted June 10.
BlueWalker 3 was developed at AST SpaceMobile’s facilities in Texas and is slated to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket with other passengers from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The 1,500-kilogram satellite has a 64-square-meter phased array antenna that is designed to unfold in space to connect standard smartphones and other devices at broadband speeds.
The startup has an experimental license for in-orbit BlueWalker 3 tests to configure ground equipment and software for significantly larger operational satellites called BlueBird.
Avellan said May 16 that BlueBird’s development is so advanced that it is ready to start deploying the operational satellites in 2023 even if Blue Walker 3 runs into issues.
SpaceX is also slated to launch the first BlueBird.
By the end of 2024, AST SpaceMobile expects to have deployed 110 of the satellites to provide “substantial global” mobile coverage.[spacenews-ad]