Qatar Executive has partnered with aircraft brokerage company Action Aviation chairman Hamish Harding and astronaut colonel Terry Virts, who are attempting to beat the world record for circling the globe via both poles on board one of the company's G650ERs.
The mission, titled One More Orbit, pays tribute to the achievements of the Apollo space missions by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics. It will launch on 9 July, 2019 at 9:32 am, the same time as the original Apollo 11 flight.
“Qatar Executive is very proud to partner with One More Orbit to make this attempt at breaking the world record possible,” says executive vice president Ettore Rodaro. “The Gulfstream G650ER is the fastest ultra-long-range business jet in the world. It has phenomenal range capabilities, industry-leading cabin technology and unparalleled passenger comfort, making it the perfect aircraft to attempt this mission on. It can fly at a faster speed for longer distances than any other jet, with its incredible 7,500 nm range.”
“To break the current record, which is unchallenged since 2008, we'll need to push the limits of speed and aircraft performance,” adds Harding, who will be one of the four G650 pilots flying the 48-hour continuous mission. “We'll also make the whole attempt carbon neutral and, hopefully, our record will be certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and Guinness World Records.”
“This is our way of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, as we bring focus to the past, present and future of space exploration. We will keep in touch with folks on the ground with a live stream powered by Satcom Direct, documenting the 40,000 km journey,” says Virts, a former commander of the International Space Station and NASA Space Shuttle pilot. “My ISS crewmate, Russian cosmonaut colonel Gennady Padalka, will be joining us in the spirit of international cooperation as we fly one more orbit.”
The mission will launch from Space Florida's Launch and Landing Facility (formerly Shuttle Landing Facility) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, heading directly to the North Pole. From there, it will stop in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to refuel, before flying to Mauritius to begin the South Pole leg of the journey. After another brief refueling stopover in Punta Arenas, Chile, the flight will return to Florida. “At a sustained 827 km/h for the entire trip, we aim to break the current record by around 23 minutes over the 48-hour mission,” says Harding. “Refueling stops will be handled like Grand Prix pit stops.”
Virts, a filmmaker known for his work on the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet, along with executive producer Jim Evans of mission partner Untitled Inc, will chronicle the meticulous preparations and the mission itself, framing the journey in a documentary about the attempt.
“The logistics of pulling this mission off, from a global broadcast standpoint, are tremendous,” says Evans. “Our worldwide network of production talent is making this happen as a global live streaming event and documentary. We're creating the ability to connect the mission with major outlets including iHeart media, Anderson Cooper Full Circle and the BBC.”
Sponsoring the mission are: Satcom Direct and Inmarsat, providing the satellite bandwidth and live feed from the aircraft; Under Armour, providing mission uniforms; and Space Florida.