AST SpaceMobile deploys BlueWalker 3 satellite dish

View from a satellite captured after the 693-square-foot array was deployed.

AST Space Mobile

Satellite-to-smartphone connectivity services AST Space Mobile Announced on Monday, the wide antenna of its recently launched test satellite has been successfully deployed — a major milestone in the company’s development of a global network to deliver 5G broadband services.

Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in September, the BlueWalker 3 satellite deployed its 693-square-foot antenna — what the company says is the largest array ever deployed in low-Earth orbit.

“Everyone should have access to cellular broadband, no matter where they live or work. Our goal is to close the connectivity gap that negatively impacts the lives of billions of people around the world,” said Abel Avellan, Chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile said in a statement.

A simulated view of the BlueWalker 3 satellite dish unfolded.

AST Space Mobile

The company is one of many contenders trying to create such a global service, an untapped market that has long been a satellite communications dream.

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AST’s network will consist of 168 satellites, which the company says will cover the globe once about 110 satellites are in orbit. BlueWalker 3 is AST’s second test satellite to date, and it plans to begin deploying its operational BlueBird satellite by the end of next year.

The satellite company went public through a SPAC last year and has raised more than $600 million so far. AST has established a number of mobile telecommunications partnerships for its services, including AT&TVodafone, Rakuten, etc.

Chris Sambar, president of AT&T Networks, said in a statement Monday that the company is “excited” that AST has reached “this important milestone.”

“In partnership with AST SpaceMobile, we believe there will be opportunities in the future to further expand our network coverage to include other remote and off-grid locations,” said Sambar.

Shares of AST SpaceMobile were up 18% in premarket trading, but fell and turned negative shortly after the market opened on Monday, down about 4%. As of Friday’s close, the company’s shares were up 11% from their previous close of $8.83.

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