MIDLAND, Texas — A piece of Midland, Texas was right by SpaceX Starlink satellites on the Falcon 9 Rocket that took off on Saturday.
"We launched our test satellite, BlueWalker 3, into orbit," said Scott Wisniewski, Chief Strategy Officer for AST SpaceMobile. "It will be the largest communications array ever deployed commercially into lower orbit."
The satellite was built by AST SpaceMobile, who is headquartered right here in Midland by the Midland International Air and Space Port.
"Midland is really our manufacturing base, and that's a really important place for us because ultimately, unlike some satellite companies, we don't buy our satellites and then launch them, we are making them, assembling them, designing them ourselves," said Wisniewski. "So our two sites in Midland are really important for this effort."
BlueWalker 3 is a prototype satellite that will be used to carry out the company's ultimate goal to eliminate connectivity gaps for people with phones all throughout the world.
"For us, we're targeting the 90% of the earth that isn't covered by cell towers, so that's a big opportunity we're going after, and it's one that historically has not been able to be accessed," said Wisniewski. "Were accessing it because of our special approach. We have 2,400 patents and pending claims that cover our technology because it's a very challenging problem to connect to cell phones on an unmodified basis from 700 to 500 kilometers away."
From here, they will test the satellite for the first time.
"Basically connect with phones directly from the satellite for the first time, it's an exciting step, and we'll be doing that on all 6 inhabiting continents," said Wisniewski.
This is something that is a big step for the future and for Midland.
"It's not a launch from Midland, but it's a launch of a satellite that was built in Midland, so we're really excited about the forward momentum it shows in terms of research, development, manufacturing here in Midland and the success of our partner AST SpaceMobile," said Sara Harris with the Midland Development Corporation.
AST hopes to launch five more big satellites by late next year.