Insight | Pushing boundaries: One More Orbit


Pushing boundaries: One More Orbit


Celebrating the circumnavigation record bid, Rupert Pearce reflects on why such bold endeavours are so important.

Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk on the surface of the Moon after they departed the Command Module piloted by Michael Collins. The Apollo 11 mission was without doubt one of the boldest and most inspirational endeavours in the history of humankind.

The moment had a profound and indelible impact on the way we see (literally and figuratively) the Universe, our planet and, of course, ourselves.

In tribute to the Apollo missions, Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding and former International Space Station Commander Colonel Terry Virts yesterday embarked on the One More Orbit mission to beat the world record for circumnavigating the globe.

It’s a daring feat that pushes the limits of speed and aircraft performance. The carbon negative mission will cover 25,000 miles at sustained speeds of over 500 mph over the course of roughly 48 hours.

I am delighted to say that Inmarsat is supporting this mission. The plane is flying around the globe with in-flight connectivity via our Global Xpress (GX) network. In addition to providing Hamish, Terry and the crew with safety services and cockpit communications, our connectivity will allow people from around the globe to watch the world record attempt in real time via the One More Orbit website.

Earlier today I had the great pleasure of speaking with Terry Virts when the aircraft was making its way over Dubai. Terry is a hero of mine, so as well as wanting to wish him luck for the mission, I inevitably had a number of questions I wanted to ask him, which you can see in the video below.

I believe that bold endeavours like One More Orbit offer a moment for self-reflection. They remind us to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in our day-to-day lives.

I recently read that the computer on board Apollo 11 had just 73KB of memory. And here I was today speaking to Terry in high-quality broadband with data streamed at exponentially greater rates across our GX network.

It’s moments like these which highlight why I am so proud that Inmarsat is at the forefront of the ever-changing mobile connectivity industry, leading innovation and ultimately connecting our customers to a better future.

July also marks the 40th anniversary of Inmarsat.  We were founded in 1979, just 10 years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.  At this point, Microsoft was only four years old, Apple just three, while Facebook, Google and Amazon didn’t even exist. The mobile and internet revolutions lay ahead of us and it has been a trajectory of constant technological disruption ever since.

Now it’s 2019 and the first year when the majority of humans on the planet have access to the internet. It is also the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web and the advent of the web browser.

These are anniversaries and milestones worthy of celebration. They are also clear signs of technological and societal progress.

As the crew on board the‘One More Orbit mission celebrate Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, I wish them luck in breaking the world circumnavigation speed record. It is a fitting tribute to one of the most outstanding achievements made by humankind.

Rupert Pearce speaking to the One More Orbit crew

About the author

Rupert Pearce was Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer from January 2012 until February 2021. Rupert joined Inmarsat in January 2005 as Group General Counsel and, from January 2009, additionally held the position of Senior Vice President, Inmarsat Enterprises. Previously, Rupert worked for Atlas Venture, where he was a partner working with the firm’s European and US investment teams. He was previously also a partner at the international law firm Linklaters, where he spent 13 years specialising in corporate finance, M&A and private equity transactions. Rupert received an MA (First Class) in Modern History from Oxford University and won the 1995 Fullbright Fellowship in US securities law, studying at the Georgetown Law Center. He has been a visiting fellow of the Imperial College Business School, London, lecturing on the school’s Entrepreneurship programme, and is the co-author of Raising Venture Capital (Wiley).