Lynk wants to launch many operational satellites on the SpaceX ride-share flight in December, ahead of ambitions to offer connectivity services through the constellation straight to unmodified telephones next year. Lynk Chief Executive Officer Charles Miller informed SpaceNews that the Virginia-based business had secured a spot on the SpaceX transporter flight through ride-sharing service provider Spaceflight.
As it draws nearer regulatory permission to begin commercial services under recently reduced guidelines, Miller said the company is “actively looking at launches” for next summer, spring, and fall. “For strategic reasons,” he continued, the plan to deploy numerous satellites in a go in December might change.
Lynk announced on May 25 that it had applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to execute an original batch of satellites which are under smallsat established rules in 2019, which would allow services to start quickly but with limitations such as a constellation of not over 10 satellites. “We thought we might have dozens of satellites in orbit without the permission to offer commercial services before the new ‘smallsat rules,’” Miller explained.
He went on to say that increasing demand for Lynk’s services from the mobile network operators (MNOs) has prompted the company to set a commercial launch date for summer 2022. These services will be limited to message and emergency warnings due to the constellation’s initial capacity limits. Under a flagship carrier scheme, it will limit early deployment to 12 MNOs — one for each country of operation.
Lynk claims to have over 36 testing partners globally, totaling over 1.5 billion mobile phone users. “The first dozen MNOs would have a defacto ‘exclusive’ in their nation for a limited time,” Miller wrote in an email. To keep the network refilled and improved, the business plans to launch a constellation of 5,000 low-Earth-orbit satellites by 2025, with production ramping up to 200 each month. “We will establish a continuous spacecraft production line, and every two years, we will update to next generation of spaceship size and performance,” he stated. “Our objective is to update the spaceship yearly, similar to how the iPhone gets updated.”
According to the company, Shannon, Lynk’s fifth test satellite initiated on the SpaceX ride-share journey in June began operations on July 13 after a successful deployment. Shannon is intended for mass production and has five-fold the mass and seven-fold the power of the fourth satellite, as per Lynk. AST SpaceMobile, based in Texas, is also working on the cellphone-compatible satellite broadband network. The company was previously referred as AST & Science and raised $462 million when it went public in April.
The company plans to launch its first commercial satellites in the second half of the year 2022 or even early 2023, covering 49 nations along the equator and 20 satellites, comprising about 1.6 billion people.