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Iridium and Stratos Supply Satelitte Communication for Environmental Sailing Expedition

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

July 09, 2009

Iridium and Stratos Supply Satelitte Communication for Environmental Sailing Expedition

By Vivek Naik, TMCnet Contributor

There have been some pretty famous sea journeys over time. There was Thor Heyerdahl’s real time Kon-Tiki Expedition that covered 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a raft made predominantly with balsa wood. And, of course, Tintin and Captain Haddock’s journey in the steamboat ‘Aurora’ to attempt to recover debris from a meteor that smacked into the Arctic Ocean.


Iridium Satellite and Stratos Global Corporation announced that the companies partnered to provide satellite communication equipment and services for the ‘Around the Americas’ sailing expedition, which started in May, and will go right around the two Americas.
The time span calculated for this journey is 13 months ending on July 10, 2010. The total distance covered will be 25,000 miles. The goals of the journey are to collect scientific data and test new methods and equipment to raise awareness of the potentially dangerous changes that are taking place in the earth’s oceans, and to expedite answers and identify structured approaches to attempt to overcome these newly identified changes. Shown below is the current location of the sail boat.
“During the boat’s navigation of the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to Atlantic this summer, it will be sailing at very high latitudes,” said Ronald Spithout, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Stratos (News - Alert), in a statement. “Iridium is the only satellite system that can ensure dependable, uninterrupted communication in those waters.”
Company officials said the voyage will first head West to hit the Pacific Ocean, then move upwards toward the Arctic Ocean via the Northwest Sea Passage, sail along the North coast of Canada, turn South into the Atlantic Ocean, then traverse the East coasts of North America and South America, before hitting the southern most tip of South America. From there, the travellers will move North along the East coasts of South America, Central America and North America before finally docking back in Seattle. 

You can follow the voyage live at ‘Around the Americas’ dedicated Web site.
Stratos officials said that they have fitted an Iridium (News - Alert) OpenPort high bandwidth marine satcom system, which will provide voice and high speed data connections during the course of the expedition, on the 64 foot steel hull sailboat, aptly called ‘Ocean Watch,’ and it will be one of the first sailboats, if not first, to sail the Northwest Passage.
“Since Iridium is the only service that can provide voice and data coverage throughout our entire voyage, Iridium OpenPort will serve as our primary communication device and critical lifeline to the outside world,” said Mark Schrader, expedition leader for Around the Americas, in a statement. “This high-performance system will give us access to enhanced-bandwidth satellite voice and data links between ship and shore during the course of our voyage/expedition. The Iridium OpenPort terminal will enable us to transmit reports, blogs and images to the thousands of people who will follow our voyage on the Internet, as well as speak to our families during this long journey.”
Company officials said that the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, Remote Measurement and Research Company, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT (News - Alert)) Sea Grant, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Western Washington University have contributed, installed and deployed a range of instruments onboard Ocean Watch to monitor polar science, weather, jellyfish populations and solar energy reflection, among other conservation projects. 
Ten scientists from these organizations will be part of the expedition, and the sailboat will stop at 30 different ports in all in 11 countries to host media and environmental awareness programs to educate citizens about issues affecting conservation of the earth’s oceans.
Iridium officials said that its Iridium OpenPort terminal has three independent phone circuits and a separate high-speed data port with scalable rates of 9.6 to 128 kbps. It has a lightweight, omni directional antenna array that is nearly the size of a typical small boat radar radome, and contains no moving parts, which greatly reduces cabling, installation and maintenance costs.
“Iridium OpenPort is a breakthrough product for the maritime market, as it is the only truly global high-bandwidth mobile satellite system,” said Greg Ewert, excutive vice president of global distribution channels for Iridium, in a statement. “The Iridium OpenPort system has gone through a rigorous testing program, both onshore and afloat on a variety of platforms. As a result, it has a robust, proven system that operates reliably in the marine environment, even on smaller vessels with high-dynamic rolling and pitching motions.” 

Vivek Naik is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Vivek's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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