Today Lynk Global announced its fifth satellite is successfully starting operations. Shannon, the company’s “cell tower in space” is the first of what the company says will be dozens and hundreds of satellites built and launched into orbit in the years to come, with plans to provide commercial cellular services worldwide in 2022.
“Lynk is well-positioned to finish our pre-commercial R&D phase and begin commercial cellular service, from space, worldwide in 2022. Our 5th satellite builds on the 4 previous tests and is a breakthrough in design thinking that will scale to larger sizes while still being mass-produced in the US and at scale,” said Charles Miller, Lynk co-founder, and CEO.
More satellites will be launched later this year with production “ramping quickly” starting next year, with production going up to 200 satellites per month in the future. Shannon is the first module of what the company describes as a “highly-scalable” design built in house, with five times the mass, seven times the power, and twice the RF gain as its previous free-flying satellite. Three other satellites were payloads hosted onboard Northrup-Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft, tapping into the Cygnus’s ability to act as a free flying platform once it completes its primary mission of delivering cargo to the International Space Station.
Lynk is emphasizing a “rapid do-learn loop” satellite design process, developing, building, and launching “American-made” satellites on a repeatable six month schedule, enabling the four-year-old startup to begin planning for its global mobile network constellation earlier than anticipated.
When commercial service begins next year pending FCC approval, Lynk’s satellite constellation will enable anyone in the world with a simple mobile phone to “stay connected everywhere,” says the company press release. Lynk has more than 36 testing partners worldwide representing more than 1.5 billion mobile phone subscribers.
Lynk’s first services upon launch will include the delivery of everyone-everywhere-emergency (EEE) alerts to cell phones and to enable people contact emergency services for help even when the ground network is inoperable due to problems with terrestrial networks.
At 5G Expo in Miami Beach last month, Miller said the company was in the process of raising $50 million to fund its next phase of growth which would include the launch of 10 satellites by the end of 2022 and expanding its production line. Lynk intends to focus its efforts on generating revenue with low-bandwidth services to maximize the use of its initial satellites, primarily text messaging, and scale upward as constellation coverage expands and it launches larger and more powerful satellites.