The team will attempt pole-to-pole world circumnavigation speed record to mark 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing
Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding and Astronaut Terry Virts will attempt to beat the world record for circling the globe via both poles from 9 to 11 July on board a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft. Qatar Executive is the private jet charter division of Qatar Airways Group.
The mission, titled One More Orbit, pays tribute to the achievements of the Apollo missions by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics. The mission will launch on 9 July at 9:32 am – the same time as the original Apollo 11 flight.
Harding, who will be one of the four G650 pilots flying the 48-hour continuous mission, said that to break the current record, which is unchallenged since 2008, they need to push the limits of speed and aircraft performance. He added that they will make the whole attempt carbon neutral and hopefully, they will be certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™.
According to Virts, a former Commander of the International Space Station and NASA Space Shuttle pilot, this is their way of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, as they 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 inflight connectivity provider Satcom Direct, documenting the 25,000-mile (40,000 km) journey. 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 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 nautical mile (13,890 km) range.’
Harding said that Action Aviation is delighted to partner with Qatar Executive for the mission. They will launch from Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (formerly Shuttle Landing Facility) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and head directly to the North Pole.
From there, we’ll 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, we’ll return to Florida. At a sustained 516 mph (827 km/h) for the entire trip, we aim to break the current record by around 23 minutes over the 48-hour mission. 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.
Evans said that the logistics of pulling the mission off, from a global broadcast standpoint, are tremendous.
Our worldwide network of production talent are 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, Facebook’s Anderson Cooper Full Circle and the BBC.’
Sponsoring the mission are: Satcom Direct and Inmarsat, which will provide the satellite bandwidth and live feed from the aircraft; Under Armour, providing mission uniforms; and Space Florida.