June 19, 2024

BlueWalker-3 Satellite Launches This Weekend, May Be Bright

A brand-new satellite introducing this weekend BlueWalker-3 could be notably bright once its unfurled in orbit.
A routine SpaceX Starlink launch this coming weekend carries an unusual guest, that you numerous be able to quickly see sliding through the significantly crowded night sky.

The launch is set to take place in addition to Starlink Group 4-2 from launch pad LC-39A from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, September 10th, at 9:10 PM EDT/1:10 UT (on the 11th). SpaceXs Falcon-9 rocket will send the 60 table-sized Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit, then land the Falcon 9 phase one booster now on its 6th flight back on the A Shortfall of Gravitas landing platform at sea.

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Increase of the Megasats.
Naturally, SpaceXs new generation of Starlink minus visors are still bright as well. More business plan to follow AST SpaceMobiles lead will direct gain access to connectivity, to consist of Virginia based Lynk Global which will also introduce with SpaceX beginning in November 2022.
BlueWalker-3 unfurled on Earth. Credit: AST SpaceMobile.
Like arrival of Starlink, the upcoming release of BlueWalker-3 has given numerous a satwatcher pause. The satellite will include a reflective 64-meter square antenna (8-meters or ~ 24 feet on a side) as soon as unfurled. For context, the inflatable Echo-1 sphere introduced by the U.S. in 1960 was only slightly larger (30 meters throughout) and was easily noticeable to the naked eye at around magnitude 0.
The Echo-1 satellite. NASA.
As of composing this, Starlink seems deploying the Group 4-2 batch in a 53.2 degree inclination orbit, suggesting that BlueWalker-3 will follow the very same course. Early sighting chances recommend that BlueWalker-3 will be visible from latitudes 20 to 40 degrees north at sunset, and 0 to 30 degrees south at dawn.
What can you do? Definitely, as weve mentioned previously, our opinion on the Starlink debate is nuanced: as a regular tourist to remote areas, I like the concept of having the ability to keep linked and working while nomadic … but worldwide oversight is likewise required to safeguard the night sky. Really, the battle versus light pollution far predates Starlink.
What you can do is see and record what you see. Well be tracking the launch and sightings of Bluewalker-3 around the world and tweeting how brilliant it in fact is as @Astroguyz on Twitter. Well also publish initial and appropriate IDs and orbital aspects for BlueWalker-3 once theyre published for tracking on platforms such as Heavens-Above, Celestrak, Orbitron etc.
Its a brave new age, one that holds both the pledge of real mobile connection, however also the caution of a night sky where the synthetic stars may one day surpass natural ones. Make sure to chronicle what you see, as Bluewalker-3 flies this weekend.
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( Launch VIDEO).
Keep in mind that the launch itself goes off around two hours after regional sunset and might possibly place on a really photogenic program for the Florida Space Coast as the tendrils of the SpaceX Jellyfish rise to welcome the last rays of sunlight. The U.S. Eastern Seaboard will likely see the burning red phase 2 Merlin engine crossing the sky, looking like a glowing red comet as the mission heads northward out across the Atlantic.
A Starlink launch out of Florida, as seen from downtown Norfolk, Virginia 2 hours before daybreak. Credit: Dave Dickinson.
The additional guest of interest is Texas-based AST SpaceMobiles Bluewalker-3 satellite. The mission is a test demonstrator for the companys Larger BlueBird satellite constellation, which will eventually field 110 satellites in low-Earth orbit for global coverage.
The release has been beleaguered by supply chain problems, the international pandemic and technical concerns, however AST SpaceMobile seems poised now to finally test the system in orbit, ahead of the complete deployment and roll-out of the BlueBird satellite constellation by 2024. AST SpaceMobiles BlueBird system might even beat SpaceXs Starlink/T-Mobile collaboration announced last week to fielding this next generation satellite internet system.

The satellite will feature a reflective 64-meter square antenna (8-meters or ~ 24 feet on a side) when unfurled. For context, the inflatable Echo-1 sphere launched by the U.S. in 1960 was only slightly bigger (30 meters throughout) and was easily visible to the naked eye at around magnitude 0.
Well be tracking the launch and sightings of Bluewalker-3 worldwide and tweeting how brilliant it actually is as @Astroguyz on Twitter.

The implementation has actually been beleaguered by supply chain obstacles, the global pandemic and technical issues, however AST SpaceMobile seems poised now to lastly evaluate the system in orbit, ahead of the complete release and roll-out of the BlueBird satellite constellation by 2024. AST SpaceMobiles BlueBird system might even beat SpaceXs Starlink/T-Mobile collaboration announced last week to fielding this next generation satellite internet system.