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Express-AM4 Satellite Salvage Plan For Antarctic Internet In Jeopardy 46

First time accepted submitter amcenwest writes with news on the fate of the mis-launched Ekspress-AM4. From the article: "A modern, state of the art communications satellite stranded last August in a useless orbit will constitute a double failure if Russian officials de-orbit the spacecraft as planned, according to an expert from the team hoping to salvage the spacecraft. 'A new Express AM4 orbit could provide 14 to 16 hours of daily Internet coverage for the international scientific research bases in Antarctica,' said Readdy." Unfortunately, the satellite is scheduled to begin a deorbiting burn between March 20th and 26th, so it looks unlikely that it can be salvaged at this point.
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Express-AM4 Satellite Salvage Plan For Antarctic Internet In Jeopardy

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  • by Donwulff ( 27374 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:37PM (#39409079)

    It is possible. If you read the article in question, you would've seen that National Science Foundation (running the Antarctic Research Program) received bids in the range of $100 million to $500 million for satellite broadband. So not only is it possible, NFS has sought bids on it, and we know the projected price. No word on whether this is within the NFS budget for this task, however.

    Personally I would assume it is not worth it. And hence enters this plan, as Polar Broadband Ltd. believes they can salvage the satellite into Antarctic service for as little as $20 million. It may still be more than NSF is willing to spend, especially considered the risks and reduced lifetime on the satellite and the fact the satellite was never planned for this use so is not going to be optimal solution.

  • Re:Shortwave? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:02PM (#39409209)

    The data rate on HF radio maxes out around 100 kilobits/s, or about as the same as an old dialup modem. And that's if everything is working well. A more typical experience would be slower.

    Speeds like that are generally too slow for transferring megabytes of data that might be generated by a science outpost, and not useful at all for photographs or imaging files. For that, you want satellite or fibre or somebody to pack out a hard drive occasionally.

    HF is still useful for low-bandwidth things like teletype, SCADA, telemetry, and some other things. And of course voice and CW comms, and digital modes like PSK31.

  • by AikonMGB ( 1013995 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @09:08PM (#39409263) Homepage

    Lol. Try Antarctic Broadband [] -- nanosattellite cube (20cm x 20cm x 20cm) with Ka-band bent-pipe transponder capable of connecting mobile ground stations in the Antarctic circle to permanent stations off-continent. Launch a demonstrator for a few million, show that you can achieve the link, then follow on with duplicate-build cubes as benefits become realized.

    If you want to put more eggs into fewer baskets, with a lower long-term cost, you can do two cubes in inverted Molniya orbits with long loiters over the southern pole; same Ka-band payload can be used, but you'll probably want larger cubes to match the end-of-life power.

  • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:42AM (#39412601)

    Several reasons:
        1) Often we would like to get a big sample data set back to our home offices for analysis while the field team is still in place to do quality analysis they can't do.
        2) Sometimes the field team needs application software or documentation down there. On a related note, because of the availability of Internet there we are much less paranoid about shipping down every piece of documentation they could possibly want.
        3) Recreational -- during down time the people down there like to surf the web like anyone else -- this is currently a low priority use but is still be nice for the folks down there 3, 4 or 16 months at a time.

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