Satellite to Monitor Arctic Shipping Lanes

Japan Times
Thursday, May 17, 2012

A new satellite will be used by Weathernews to provide navigational information, ice monitoring, for commercial vessels in the Arctic Ocean

The 10-kg cube-shaped satellite, jointly developed by Tokyo-based AXELSPACE Corp.and Weathernews, is scheduled to be launched from the Yasny Cosmodrome in Russia on Sept. 28. It will be the first attempt by a private company to use a satellite to monitor ice in the Arctic Ocean, reports the Japan Times.

Weathernews plans to use the data to provide navigational information to commercial vessels plying the Arctic Ocean during the summer. The service will become available starting in summer 2013.

Eleven vessels used the route in 2010 and 34 ships used it in 2011, spokesman Hitoki Ito told The Japan Times, adding the route does not remain navigable on a regular basis.

An Arctic passage can shorten the distance ships have to travel between Europe and Asia to one-third of the route via the Cape of Good Hope and half the distance of the route through the Suez Canal.

Weathernews invested some Japanese Yen 200 million in the satellite's development and Yen 60 million in its production, Ito said.
It is now planning to develop a more enhanced second satellite.

"This one is more like an experiment. By actually operating it, we want to accumulate knowhow," said Masaya Yamamoto, leader of the satellite project at Weathernews.


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