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ORBCOMM ready for AIS satellite launch

ORBCOMM has announced that the first prototype of its second generation (OG2) of satellites, equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) payload, has completed testing and is ready for launch.

The satellite has been shipped from Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Integration and Test Facility in Louisville to the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, and will be prepared for a launch on the Cargo Re-supply Services (CRS) mission aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket currently targeted for October 7, 2012.

As well as the AIS payload, which will be used to receive and report transmissions from AIS-equipped vessels for ship tracking and other maritime navigational and safety efforts, this satellite will also be used to evaluate performance for subsequent OG2 satellite launches.

In mid-2013, ORBCOMM says that it plans to launch an additional eight satellites, which will be placed into orbits that are optimised to deliver the best coverage for its enhanced OG2 messaging services.

The remainder of the constellation of 18 satellites is expected to be launched in 2014.

“The deployment of this first OG2 satellite marks a historic milestone in the evolution of our global M2M network and solidifies ORBCOMM as the standout leader in providing integrated M2M communications services to customers around the world,” said Marc Eisenberg, ORBCOMM’s chief executive officer.

“The launch of our first OG2 satellite will bring us one step closer to our goal of delivering an even higher level of functionality, performance and service.”

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  • A giant leap forward for maritime IoT

    Author: Andrew Loretta, director, maritime business development for ORBCOMM.

    We are proud to be a part of the recently announced partnership with AAC Clyde Space AB and SAAB AB that is ushering in a new era in maritime communications through the development of the next generation of a space-based very high frequency (VHF) Data Exchange System (VDES). As the maritime industry embraces digitalisation, we expect a greater emphasis on secure data exchange and ship to shore communication—and we look forward to facilitating this shift in operations through our technology in conjunction with our partners.

    As long-term providers of automatic identification system (AIS) solutions and a touchpoint for space-based maritime data, we at ORBCOMM relish the opportunity to demonstrate the benefits that the significantly increased bandwidth that VDES will offer not just our maritime customers but the supply chain as a whole.

    With up to 32 times more bandwidth than currently offered by AIS and two-way communication, the ground-breaking new system is the next natural step for satellite technology and will allow users to completely rethink the way they manage their fleets. VDES bridges the gap between ship and shore in a way that the industry has been crying out for.

    One of the changes we are most excited about is how innovators now have an open playing field to craft interesting technical solutions specifically for the maritime world without having to scale back their imaginations to match the limited accessibility. The sky is literally the limit once these new satellites come into play and we are keen to work with newcomers and support existing companies with bringing their visions to life so that they can propel this industry forward.

    We have already seen how our AIS data is used not just for real-time vessel and asset tracking, but also as a base line from which interesting insights can be drawn about the global fleet. A good example is a recent article by maritime expert and Navigate PR director Bill Lines, who used our partner Marine Traffic’s data in conjunction with information from the Baltic Exchange to create a snapshot of tanker operating expenses.  

    We already know that VDES can be integrated with existing vessel systems and we are keen to see how ship operators, managers and equipment manufacturers will use this data highways to improve navigation, boost safety, enforce regulations, reduce emissions via fuel consumption, and improve on-board decision making by delivering data-driven insight.

    Work on the project begins next month when AAC Clyde Space will begin manufacturing the satellite that will boast a VDES payload from Saab. We expect to complete the in-orbit VDES capability demonstration of the first EPIC 3U satellite in the first quarter 2023 and are happy to say that ORBCOMM customers can expect to receive AIS data from the new satellite and so will benefit from the project as it comes on line.

    As a larger constellation of VDES satellites is contemplated, we look forward to being the conduit for better-quality data in larger quantities. Our considerable IoT experience puts us in a prime position to reap the benefits of the technology as it evolves, and we are excited to work with our partners and guide them on the best path to maximize the benefits of using VDES technology.

    To learn more about the project, we encourage you to watch this video, which features Greg Flessate, ORBCOMM senior vice president and general manager for Government, AIS and Business Operations, as well as AAC Clyde Space chief executive officer Luis Gomes and Saab’s Christer Fuglesang being interviewed by Rachel Carroll, president and managing partner at Edison.

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