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Mon, Feb 28, 2005

How Steve Fossett Stays In Touch

Blue Sky Network, Iridium, Install Next-Gen Sat Terminal Aboard Global Flyer

Blue Sky Network has installed a new-generation Iridium satellite terminal on Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, the revolutionary new lightweight jet aircraft in which Steve Fossett hopes to achieve the first-ever solo, non-stop flight around the world.

The Blue Sky Network system will permit the ground-based support crew to track the aircraft’s location and monitor the status of onboard systems, and also provide full two-way voice and email communications with the aircraft throughout the flight.

The equipment supplied by Blue Sky Network consists of a D1000 mobile terminal with embedded GPS and a dual-channel antenna to support concurrent voice and data transmissions.  The D1000 is connected via Ethernet to an iPAQ hand held computer with keyboard for sending and receiving emails. 

The D1000 receives inputs from aircraft sensors for critical data such as fuel consumption, and is programmed to transmit onboard data through the Blue Sky Network SkyRouter server network to selected locations.

“Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer represents an ideal showcase for the possibilities envisioned in our new D1000 mobile satellite terminal and SkyRouter network.  It will provide an extremely flexible network-based solution for tracking and telemetry data

communications allowing many users access to their specific data needs,” said Jon Gilbert, president and CEO of Blue Sky Network.

Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is a single-engine, long-range jet aircraft that was built by Scaled Composites specifically for this record attempt.  The unique trimaran-style aircraft has a wingspan of 114 ft (34.5 m), and is constructed entirely from advanced graphite/epoxy composite materials.  It will fly at altitudes up to 51,000 ft (15,545 m) at speeds in excess of 250 knots (463 kph), and will carry more than four times its own weight in fuel at take-off.  The round-the-world flight is scheduled to begin sometime near February 28, and is expected to take less than 80 hours.  Sir Richard Branson will accompany the flight in a support aircraft.

“The Iridium satellite system provided by Blue Sky Network will provide an important margin of safety for this extremely challenging flight,” said Fossett.  “Real-time tracking and the monitoring of fuel consumption and other variables will be invaluable to the success of the mission.  This Iridium satellite communication link will also let me keep in touch with technical support personnel on the ground by voice and email.”

“With Iridium’s global pole-to-pole coverage, the pilot will never be out of touch.  This is a terrific opportunity to see the breadth of the Iridium capability,” said Don Thoma, executive vice president of Iridium Satellite.

FMI: www.iridium.com, www.blueskynetwork.com

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