Thursday, September 15, 2011

No. 310: A satellite for safer travel in the northern sea route will be launched next year (September 16, 2011)

A very small satellite will be launched next September to monitor the sea ice of the Arctic Sea. Weather News, the world’s largest full-service weather company, will launch a 27 cm square satellite with a larger satellite from Russia next September. The company developed the new satellite jointly with Axelspace. The satellite will collect data of the northern sea route and provide collected data to ships for their safe travel. The investment is 150 million yen from the development to the launch. Currently, the northern sea route is available for navigation for only two months in summer, but it is attracting worldwide attention as a shorter and inexpensive route for cargo shipment between Europe and Asia.

The satellite goes around the earth 15 times a day and transmits the images of sea ice of the Arctic sea filmed by a build-in small camera. Weather News will dispatch data on safe travel by combining them with its own data on seawater, sea currents, weathers, and waves. The new satellite will help the company dispatch data in real time and forecast the moves of sea ice. The northern sea route shortens the travel distance to two thirds of the route through the Suez Canal and to half of the route via Cape of Good Hope. Travel time will be shortened from one month to one week, and ships will be free from the risk of pirates. The company provides weather information to 5,000 ships, which accounts for 25% of world’s ocean-going ships, affiliated with 400 companies. The northern sea route will presumably become critical for cargo shipment between Asia and Europe as an economical sea route.  

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