Author Topic: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)  (Read 56059 times)

Offline Asteroza

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SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« on: 03/11/2020 05:50 am »
search didn't pull up a thread for this so...


A competitor in the satellite cellular telecomms market, SpaceMobile is aiming to bring 4G/5G cellular service from space. Built/backed by AST & Science.

https://ast-science.com/

There's an overview article which mentions their recent $110 investment round

https://spacenews.com/megaconstellation-startup-raises-110-million-to-connect-smartphones-via-satellite/

 Early constellation is in the low 10's of satellites, likely similar to Lynk.Global so are initially targeting hourly access. The design of the satellites is somewhat unique. Allegedly a relay, not a full spaceborne 4G/5G base station, where they intend to sell relay access to existing terrestrial cellular providers, and using the licensed band permissions of those providers, so turning the relay on and off as it passes over regions, switching frequencies to the scheduled partner. Additionally, they describe a modular architecture with a very large antenna, which seems to suggest either some sort of direct aggregate satellite (think cubesat blocks merging together as a large phased array) or close formation flying with a distributed antenna (or maybe something in between, like a SpiderFabbed truss mounting antenna modules?). Yet other articles suggest their satellite (singular, not plural) will weigh more than IridiumNext (though that could be net total mass after on-orbit assembly).


The $110 million investment had Vodaphone and Rakuten involved. Rakuten in particular is interesting, as they are currently transitioning from an MVNO to a fully virtualized 4G/5G RAN core based cellular provider as a full fledged cellphone carrier in japan with their own base stations/towers and their own frequencies/bands, while investing in gapfiller solutions such as UAV flying wing drone HAPS flying at high altitude (as an alternative to free floating balloons like Google's Project Loon, or blimps), so investing in another relay gapfiller solution works for them, and lays the stage for easily expanding globally due to the virtualized network core (which appears to be provided by Nokia?).

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #1 on: 04/15/2020 03:47 am »
FCC Filing: SAT-LOI-20200413-00034
Their 243 satellite constellation is registered through Papua New Guinea.

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #2 on: 04/15/2020 06:55 am »
FCC Filing: SAT-LOI-20200413-00034
Their 243 satellite constellation is registered through Papua New Guinea.

V-band though?

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #3 on: 04/15/2020 10:43 am »
FCC Filing: SAT-LOI-20200413-00034
Their 243 satellite constellation is registered through Papua New Guinea.

V-band though?

V-band to gateways, that should be interesting.  And of course they don't want to start another processing round.  The filing mentions slightly increasing power when needed due to fade.  Is anyone successfully using V-band yet?  I know a few sats have it.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #4 on: 11/03/2020 10:19 am »
NASA filed objection to this constellation at FCC, due to collision concerns: NASA objects to new megaconstellation, citing risk of “catastrophic collison”

Quote
NASA has formally commented (PDF) on a request by a US company to build a megaconstellation of satellites at an altitude of 720km above the Earth's surface, citing concerns about collisions. This appears to be the first time that NASA has publicly commented on such an application for market access, which is pending before the Federal Communications Commission

"NASA submits this letter during the public comment period for the purpose of providing a better understanding of NASA's concerns with respect to its assets on-orbit, to further mitigate the risks of collisions for the mutual benefit of all involved," wrote Samantha Fonder, an engineer for the space agency.

At issue are plans put forth by AST & Science, which intends to build a constellation of more than 240 large satellites, essentially deploying "cell towers" in space to provide 4G and possibly 5G broadband connection directly to cell phones on Earth. The company, based in Midland, Texas, calls its constellation "SpaceMobile" and has raised an estimated $120 million.

FCC filing: https://licensing.fcc.gov/myibfs/download.do?attachment_key=2765834

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #5 on: 11/03/2020 09:30 pm »
While the A-train objections have merit, that could in theory be remedied by A-train participants contracting with tug services like a MEV or even a Vigoride in the face of increased propellant consumption.

The more interesting takeaway is that the AST sats will have a 900 square meter phased array. Is that a fixed but deployable antenna, or something built by an Archinaut/SpiderFab builder device? Maybe something like the concepts TUI was putting out related to Orbweaver, which had these giant hexagon tile dome antennas.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #6 on: 11/05/2020 03:46 pm »
Texas satellite company defends itself against NASA criticisms

Quote
The founder of a Texas-based company that wants to put more than 200 very large satellites into low-Earth orbit has pushed back on concerns from NASA that these spacecraft pose an orbital debris threat.

“We’re not a bunch of cowboys launching satellites,” said Abel Avellan, founder of AST & Science, in an interview. "This is a serious, well-funded project."

Quote
Each of the satellites will include a large antenna, comprising an area as large as 900 meters squared. However, Avellan said the satellites will fly edge-on, "like a frisbee, but without the spinning." He said the satellites' cross-section along the direction of motion is only about 3 meters squared. The company has calculated that the probability of a collision occurring at random—assuming no avoidance maneuver—to be only about 1-in-5,000 over its lifetime, or 1-in-20 across the entire constellation.

Offline DigitalMan

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #7 on: 11/05/2020 04:46 pm »
Texas satellite company defends itself against NASA criticisms

Quote
The founder of a Texas-based company that wants to put more than 200 very large satellites into low-Earth orbit has pushed back on concerns from NASA that these spacecraft pose an orbital debris threat.

“We’re not a bunch of cowboys launching satellites,” said Abel Avellan, founder of AST & Science, in an interview. "This is a serious, well-funded project."

Quote
Each of the satellites will include a large antenna, comprising an area as large as 900 meters squared. However, Avellan said the satellites will fly edge-on, "like a frisbee, but without the spinning." He said the satellites' cross-section along the direction of motion is only about 3 meters squared. The company has calculated that the probability of a collision occurring at random—assuming no avoidance maneuver—to be only about 1-in-5,000 over its lifetime, or 1-in-20 across the entire constellation.

I haven't been able to find any comments on this from astronomers. No concerns?

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #8 on: 11/06/2020 01:06 am »
Texas satellite company defends itself against NASA criticisms

Quote
The founder of a Texas-based company that wants to put more than 200 very large satellites into low-Earth orbit has pushed back on concerns from NASA that these spacecraft pose an orbital debris threat.

“We’re not a bunch of cowboys launching satellites,” said Abel Avellan, founder of AST & Science, in an interview. "This is a serious, well-funded project."

Quote
Each of the satellites will include a large antenna, comprising an area as large as 900 meters squared. However, Avellan said the satellites will fly edge-on, "like a frisbee, but without the spinning." He said the satellites' cross-section along the direction of motion is only about 3 meters squared. The company has calculated that the probability of a collision occurring at random—assuming no avoidance maneuver—to be only about 1-in-5,000 over its lifetime, or 1-in-20 across the entire constellation.

Disclosure: I am an investor in Lynk Global.

What NASA is pointing out is that a 900 square meter object is going to be hit by debris - a lot. Some of those collisions will generate more debris.

It doesn’t matter that the satellites will be flying edge on in the direction of flight, orbital debris flies in many directions.

Perhaps someone here can explain why NASA is wrong.

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #9 on: 11/06/2020 03:14 am »
Updated FCC links since the one above apparently changed:
SAT-PDR-20200413-00034
SAT-APL-20200727-00088
SAT-APL-20201028-00126

Offline DigitalMan

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #10 on: 11/06/2020 05:32 am »
Texas satellite company defends itself against NASA criticisms

Quote
The founder of a Texas-based company that wants to put more than 200 very large satellites into low-Earth orbit has pushed back on concerns from NASA that these spacecraft pose an orbital debris threat.

“We’re not a bunch of cowboys launching satellites,” said Abel Avellan, founder of AST & Science, in an interview. "This is a serious, well-funded project."

Quote
Each of the satellites will include a large antenna, comprising an area as large as 900 meters squared. However, Avellan said the satellites will fly edge-on, "like a frisbee, but without the spinning." He said the satellites' cross-section along the direction of motion is only about 3 meters squared. The company has calculated that the probability of a collision occurring at random—assuming no avoidance maneuver—to be only about 1-in-5,000 over its lifetime, or 1-in-20 across the entire constellation.

Disclosure: I am an investor in Lynk Global.

What NASA is pointing out is that a 900 square meter object is going to be hit by debris - a lot. Some of those collisions will generate more debris.

It doesn’t matter that the satellites will be flying edge on in the direction of flight, orbital debris flies in many directions.

Perhaps someone here can explain why NASA is wrong.


I considered it but I keep coming to the conclusion that probability is in NASA's favor. Everything would be a lot simpler if debris only travelled in nice circular orbits.

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #11 on: 11/15/2020 06:00 am »
SpaceX Starlink partially mitigates orbital debris issues by initial injection to a very low orbit. That prevents satellites that die immediately from becoming a long term debris risk.

So, does AST plan to do the same - to inject to a low parking orbit and then maneuver up to 735 km?

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #12 on: 12/13/2020 08:21 am »
I saw somewhere else that AST modified their satellites from 900m2 to 450m2 in response to the NASA comments.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #13 on: 12/17/2020 02:48 am »
Vodafone and AST SpaceMobile unveil launch plans for space-based mobile network initially reaching 1.6 billion people

Quote
AST & Science LLC (“AST SpaceMobile”) secures necessary funding for first phase commercial launch of space-based mobile network.

Project aims to transform mobile network coverage for the 49 largest countries in the equatorial regions – including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania – from 2023.

SpaceMobile will be the first space-based mobile network to connect directly to 4G and 5G smartphones without any need for specialised hardware.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #14 on: 12/17/2020 02:49 am »
AST & Science to Become Pubic Company Through Combination with New Providence Acquisition Corp.

Quote
AST & Science LLC (“AST SpaceMobile”) is building the first and only space-based cellular broadband network accessible directly by standard mobile phones

AST SpaceMobile to become publicly listed through a business combination with New Providence Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: NPA, NPAUU and NPAWW)

Combined company to have an estimated post-transaction enterprise value of $1.4 billion and will become listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “ASTS” following expected transaction close in the first quarter of 2021

Transaction to provide up to $462 million in gross proceeds, comprised of New Providence Acquisition Corp.’s $232 million of cash held in trust (assuming no redemptions) and a $230 million fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share, including investments from Rakuten, Vodafone, American Tower, UBS O’Connor and a broad base of financial institutions

AST SpaceMobile LLC shareholders Vodafone, Rakuten, American Tower, and Cisneros will increase their equity holding through participation in the PIPE financing in support of AST SpaceMobile’s transition into the publicly listed company

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #15 on: 12/17/2020 02:53 am »
Satellite-to-smartphone broadband company AST & Science to go public through a SPAC

Quote
“We get to revenue when we launch our first 20 [satellites] in the second half of 2022 for commercial operation in 2023,” Avellan said.

The SPAC deal funds AST’s development of SpaceMobile through “phase one” construction, giving the company “enough capital to launch our first 20 satellites,” Avellan said. The company expects to have $541 million in total capital when it goes public, just more than the $510 million cost it estimates for the first phase, which will provide service in equatorial regions. That includes $259 million to build and launch 20 satellites, $146 million in operating expenses, $30 million to further build out its Texas facility, and $27 million for development of space ground infrastructure.

After phase one, AST expects it will cost another $1.2 billion to launch an additional 148 satellites to provide global coverage with SpaceMobile.

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #16 on: 12/25/2020 09:36 am »
I wonder if AST has launch contracts for their first 20 satellites?

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #17 on: 12/26/2020 07:17 am »
Satellite-to-smartphone broadband company AST & Science to go public through a SPAC

Quote
“We get to revenue when we launch our first 20 [satellites] in the second half of 2022 for commercial operation in 2023,” Avellan said.

The SPAC deal funds AST’s development of SpaceMobile through “phase one” construction, giving the company “enough capital to launch our first 20 satellites,” Avellan said. The company expects to have $541 million in total capital when it goes public, just more than the $510 million cost it estimates for the first phase, which will provide service in equatorial regions. That includes $259 million to build and launch 20 satellites, $146 million in operating expenses, $30 million to further build out its Texas facility, and $27 million for development of space ground infrastructure.

After phase one, AST expects it will cost another $1.2 billion to launch an additional 148 satellites to provide global coverage with SpaceMobile.

There have been a couple of space companies that performed a maneuver to effectively go public before getting to full operations or serious revenue. One was SpaceDev, which bought out a shell company and used that as a holding company to sell shares.

The other was Sky and Space Global.

SpaceDev effectively wiped out its initial shareholders by the takeover of the shell company. That wasn't fun. And SpaceDev isn't around anymore, and I don't know how the next batch of shareholders did down the road.

As far as I know, Sky and Space Global is dead in the water. I might be wrong on that, but I haven't seen any new launches from them.


Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #18 on: 12/27/2020 01:00 am »
I believe Sky and Space Global are still around. VO recently took a stake in the company.

https://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-to-take-stake-in-sky-and-space-global/
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceMobile Constellation (AST & Science)
« Reply #19 on: 12/27/2020 05:25 am »
I believe Sky and Space Global are still around. VO recently took a stake in the company.

https://spacenews.com/virgin-orbit-to-take-stake-in-sky-and-space-global/

My point was and is that companies that go public early on have not been kind to early stockholders.

I have no idea if this will be true for AST.

 

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