The Largest Commercial Communications Array Ever Just Launches

Expect to see it – it’s huge and bright The problem is, it might outshine all stars and planets

On the weekend SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched a giant satellite into space.

Called BlueWalker 3, it’s a prototype by American company AST SpaceMobile, which is to create a space-based mobile broadband network. This is only one of multiple satellites planned for the SpaceMobile constellation – some even bigger than BlueWalker 3.

“The reason why our satellite is large is because in order to communicate with a low-power, low internal strength phone, you just need a large antenna on one side with a lot of power, and so that’s a critical part of our infrastructure,” AST SpaceMobile Chief Strategy Officer Scott Wisniewski told Space.com.

“We think that’s really important for communicating directly with regular handsets, with no change to the handset, with no extra burdens on the user.”

Although this is potentially exciting for those who need that connectivity, astronomers are concerned about just how big and bright this satellite will be.

A New Scientist report has even suggested that the satellite “could outshine all stars and planets in the night sky”.

This is because the satellite is huge and reflective. Once the satellite unfurls – which it will do in the next few weeks – the antenna will measure 64m2.

As Universe Today notes that’s in the same ballpark as NASA’s Echo-1 sphere launched in 1960. That ‘satelloon’ as it was called, was also reflective, and was easy visible to the naked eye over most of Earth.

Read the full article at:
https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/bluewalker-launched-spacex-largest-satellite-astronomers/

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