Midland-based AST SpaceMobile (NASDAQ:ASTS) isn’t in the business of pumping petroleum. Rather, the $1.8B Texas company wants to build a space-based, satellite-to-phone cell phone network.
- Headed into 2022, AST had $325M in cash/equivalents and $5M of debt.
- FY and Q4 ‘21 OpEx were $91.6M (+235% YoY) and $31.3M (+35% YoY), respectively.
AST SpaceMobile says it has invested $80.7M in building the BlueWalker 3 (BW3) test satellite. BW3 will boast a 693-sq-ft. phased array, hang out roughly ~250 miles overhead in LEO, and circle the Earth every ~90 minutes.
- A healthy serving of secret sauce will presumably baked into the company’s broadband satellites. AST SpaceMobile says it has secured 2,100+ patents globally.
- AST SpaceMobile has also spent tens of millions to expand production to a 100,000-sq-ft. extension facility in Texas. The company does its satellite production in-house, with the hopes of keeping costs low.
The journey ahead
AST SpaceMobile still has to do the dang thing: launch BW3 and validate its tech on-orbit. Yesterday, management said the satellite is on schedule to launch as planned this summer. BW3 testing and integration are “near completion,” AST SpaceMobile Chairman and CEO Abel Avellan said.
If the company can achieve these short-term goals, it then plans to rapidly ramp production to six satellites/month and eventually field a 168-satellite cell network constellation. It’s a tall order. The endgame, if AST SpaceMobile can succeed, is delivering broadband services to people who are under- or unserved by traditional networks today (which is measured by the billions). The company plans to go to market by partnering with mobile network operators.
+ Market data: $ASTS is up ~26% YTD, and finished March up ~41%. Yesterday, the stock traded down 3.1%.