A project to connect standard mobile telephones virtually anywhere via low-Earth-orbit satellites without any change to hardware or software received a boost on July 13 when Lynk Global launched its fifth satellite — named Shannon — and it began operations. To express the compatibility of its network with mobile phones, Lynk Global calls its constellation of satellites, cell towers in space.
“Lynk Global the world’s only independently verified cell-tower-in-space network connectivity provider,” a company statement reads. “This next-generation satellite advances Lynk’s main objective to provide global commercial service next year.”
The company is well-positioned to finish its pre-commercial research and development phase and begin commercial cellular service, from space, worldwide in 2022, according to its cofounder and CEO, Charles Miller. “Our fifth satellite builds on the four previous tests and is a breakthrough in design thinking that will scale to larger sizes while still being mass-produced in the United States and at scale,” he said.
According to Lynk Global, a rapid do-learn loop satellite design process to develop, build and launch American-made satellites on a repeatable six-month schedule has enabled the four-year-old tech startup to begin planning for its global mobile network constellation earlier than anticipated. More satellites will be launched later this year, the company said, with production ramping quickly, starting next year. Lynk plans to ramp up production to 200 satellites per month.
“Shannon incorporates significant design improvements from lessons learned in the first four test flights and is the first model of a highly-scalable design constructed in-house,” the statement reads. “Shannon is five times the mass, seven times the power, twice the RF gain as Lynk #4, and is designed for mass production.”
Pending FCC approval, the company said, Lynk Global’s commercial service will begin next year, along with the implementation of agreements with mobile network operators around the world. Lynk reported having more than 36 testing partners worldwide, representing more than 1.5 billion mobile phone subscribers. According to Lynk Global, the satellite constellation will enable everyone in the world with a simple mobile phone to stay connected everywhere.
“Lynk Global is sitting in the center of a transformation in space access,” Miller said. “Our satellites are designed to take advantage of the emerging breakthrough in affordable space launch. When SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others move the world from launches per month to launches per day, they will be launching Lynk satellites. Lynk is perfectly positioned to take maximum advantage of the coming revolution in cheap access to space.”
Information from the company said that Lynk Global will connect more than 2 billion people where they live and work, jump-starting economic growth in remote and rural communities. Another benefit the company citied is instantaneous backup emergency communications that will be accessible everywhere on Earth. According to Lynk Global, cellular systems are rendered inoperable when they are needed the most, during natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, as well as the aftermath of security-related incidents.
“Beginning next year, Lynk will enable people to receive everyone-everywhere-emergency alerts and to contact emergency services for help even when the ground network is inoperable,” the statement reads. “Emergency responders will benefit from increased resiliency to coordinate their efforts, saving lives everywhere.”
According to Lynk Global, “Nobody should die because the phone in their pocket is not connected.”
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.