The founder of AST & Science, the company that wishes to launch a constellation of 243 communications satellites, has defended its effort from criticisms expressed by NASA in a comment to the FCC.
“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.” … Avellan said the “SpaceMobile” satellites do indeed have a very large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the ground, as this is the only way to deliver direct satellite-to-broadband signals. “There is no magic,” he said. “If you want something to connect directly to a handset, it’s not going to be a CubeSat.”
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.
It appears that neither the company nor NASA has as yet begun direct discussions about these issues. NASA’s concerns however could seriously hamper the company’s future.
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