News

July 15, 2019

Hamish Harding, Terry Virts and Qatar Executive Smash World Circumnavigation Speed Record


Mission Accomplished: One More Orbit beats Pole to Pole World Circumnavigation Speed record by 5 hours and 52 minutes

Link to landing and celebration footage, courtesy of Untitled and One More Orbit
Link to artwork, photo credit Chris Garrison
Link to artwork, photo credit Lotus Eyes Photography
Link to artwork, photo credit Michael Howard, SpaceFlight Insider
Link to artwork, photo credit Benny Sibbitt
Link to artwork, photo credit James Neilhouse, ASC
Link to artwork of flight over the South Pole, photo credit Benjamin Eberhardt of the South Pole

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –– At 12:12 UTC on July 11, 2019, Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding, Astronaut Terry Virts and Qatar Executive made history.

They achieved it by completing the fastest ever Circumnavigation of the Earth via both the North and South Poles in a time of 46 hours and 40 minutes, at an average speed of 465 knots (or 535 mph or 861 km/h).

The world record attempt, achieved in a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft, was called One More Orbit (www.onemoreorbit.com) in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) average speed record stood for 11 years held by Captain Aziz Ojjeh in a Bombardier Global XRS from 2008. Ojjeh completed the polar circumnavigation in 52 hours and 32 minutes, at an average ground speed of 444 knots (or 511 mph or 822 km/h). He did not claim the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ for his achievement, but would have qualified for both.

According to GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™, the fastest aerial circumnavigation of the Earth via both geographical poles was achieved by Captain Walter Mullikin 42 years ago in a Pan Am Boeing 747SP in 1977 in 54 hours and 7 minutes, at an average speed of 423 knots (or 486 mph or 783 km/h). He started and ended in San Francisco, stopping in South Africa and New Zealand.

One More Orbit broke both the FAI and GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ simultaneously in its mission, which began at 09:32 EDT on July 9, 2019 from the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. The flight, using a Gulfstream G650ER aircraft registered A7-CGD, callsign One More Orbit, beat the previous record (from 2008) by 5 hours and 52 minutes.

Speed refuels were achieved in Nur-sultan, Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Punta Arenas, Chile. The total distance covered was 24,962 miles (or 40,172 km).

“The new record, which I am presenting to the FAI, for the fastest aerial circumnavigation of the Earth via both geographical poles is now 46 hours 40 mins, achieved by Captain Hamish Harding (UK) and Qatar Executive (Qatar) on 11 July 2019,” says Kris Maynard, official representative of the FAI and the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom.

In addition, Maynard said Harding and Qatar Executive will be claiming 12 more Speed Over Recognized Course record claims*, including the fastest time ever achieved from the North Pole to South Pole, which took 23 hours and 30 minutes.

Mike Marcotte of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ presented the team with the record.

“A dream, a team, a machine, a new world record,” said Virts at the celebratory reception that followed the landing. “We could not have done this without the great support of Qatar Executive, Space Florida, Untitled and NASA.

The One More Orbit crew and families celebrated the historic moment in a NASA building near the landing site. In attendance were the eight circumnavigators:

  • Hamish Harding, (pilot) Chairman, Action Aviation of England, his wife Linda Harding and son Giles Harding.
  • Jacob Bech, (pilot) and Mathilde Bech, Laura Bech, Mikala Bech of Denmark.
  • Jeremy Ascough (pilot) and wife Magdalena of South Africa.
  • Yevgen Vasylenko (pilot) of Ukraine.
  • Magdalena Starowicz (flight attendant) of Poland.
  • Benjamin Rueger (lead engineer) of Germany.
  • Jannicke Mikkelson (Payload Specialist, Satellite live-streaming) of Norway.
  • Colonel Terry Virts (former Commander of the International Space Station) of the United States.

To their great surprise at the post-landing event, Mikkelson and Starowicz were identified by the FAI adjudicator as the first women in history to complete the polar circumnavigation of the earth.

Furthering the international cooperation, Russian cosmonaut, Colonel Gennady Padalka, record holder for the most days in space by any human (879 days), joined the One More Orbit crew in Nursultan, Kazakhstan and got off again in Mauritius for a short beach holiday.

Also attending were: Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker; NASA’s John Graves; Space Florida's Jimmy Moffatt, Sara Shell and Gail Bailey; executive producer Jim Evans of Untitled; Catherine Rost and Dylan Rodrigues of Satcom Direct; a number of Qatar Executive's support staff; and the entire production crew that is making a documentary about the One More Orbit mission. Staff from Space Florida's Shuttle Landing Facility also attended, along with various NASA staff who stopped by for the celebrations.

Al Baker said: “Qatar Executive, together with the One More Orbit team, has made history. A mission like this takes a huge amount of operational planning as we need to optimize the flight paths, fuel stops, potential weather conditions and make contingency plans for all possibilities. Many people behind the scenes worked tirelessly to ensure this mission was a success and I am very proud that we broke the world record – a new first for Qatar Executive”

Qatar Executive, owned by Qatar Airways, is the world’s largest owner-operator of the Gulfstream G650ER aircraft; the fastest ultra-long range business jet in the industry. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, and has a range of 7500 nautical miles and a maximum speed of Mach 0.925, flying at altitudes up to 51,000 feet.

“One More Orbit pays homage to the Apollo 11 moon landing achievement, by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics,” says Harding. “We did this during the 50th anniversary celebrations and the 500th anniversary of man first circling the planet, which Magellan did by sailing ship. It is our way of paying tribute to the past, the present, and the future of space exploration.”

“The mission utilized the skills of hundreds of talented technicians across the planet and is a testament to what can be achieved when we pull together, even with crazy deadlines and time zone challenges,” says Untitled executive producer Jim Evans. “Our production crew covered all the location action in Florida, Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Chile for the documentary aspect of this project.”

Virts, a Space Shuttle pilot, former Commander of the International Space Station and filmmaker known for his work on the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet, is chronicling the complex preparations and global effort it took to achieve the record. “We’re making a documentary about the mission, which we will share with audiences worldwide in the near future,” says Virts.

The crew established radio contact with Benjamin Eberhardt who is over-wintering in Antarctica: “While talking to you as you flew overhead the South Pole, my camera was on the roof … looking for you,” wrote Eberhardt later. “The weather wasn't great, but your lights were bright enough to shine through a thin layer of clouds right overhead, along with the Southern Cross and Pointer Stars. Thanks again for calling us, Hamish. It was a nice surprise communicating with a plane for the first time after five months and hearing some stories of your adventures. I hope it did not get too cold for you over Antarctica … congratulations for the new record!”

"Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, says: “I am delighted that, as Inmarsat celebrates 40 years of innovation and chartering new digital frontiers, we have this amazing opportunity to support the 50th celebration of one of the space industry’s most momentous events; the Apollo 11 moon landing. I believe that bold endeavors 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 as we too keep pushing the boundaries of what our satellite communications can do to connect the world to a better future.”

"The Carbon Underground is proud to be a partner of this historic mission by making the mission carbon negative,” says Larry Kopald, the company’s co-founder and president. “By calling attention to one of humankind’s greatest efforts we remind ourselves of what we are capable of doing. Alleviating the existential threat of climate change by restoring the carbon balance and cycle will take a similar effort, with a similar commitment to speed.”

The One More Orbit team thanks its sponsors, Satcom Direct and Inmarsat, for providing the satellite bandwidth and live feed from the aircraft; G-Technology; Action Aviation; LiveU encoders; and Space Florida. The Carbon Underground brings the means to make this mission carbon negative. Additionally, One More Orbit is grateful to: Canon for lenses and cameras (Len Musmeci, Tim Smith); Really Right Stuff for camera support (Verent Chan); and Convergent Design for live stream support (Dan Keaton).

ATTENTION EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Virts and Harding are available for post-flight interviews. For more information please visit www.OneMoreOrbit.com or email Meredith. Look for #onemoreorbit on social media.

* The Additional records are:

  • Nursultan to Mauritius (fastest sector at an average speed of 574 mph, over 8 hours, 41 minutes)
  • North Pole to the South Pole
  • Cape Canaveral to North Pole
  • Cape Canaveral to Nursultan
  • North Pole to Nursultan
  • North Pole to Mauritius
  • Nursultan to South Pole
  • Mauritius to South Pole
  • Mauritius to Punta Arenas
  • South Pole to Punta Arenas
  • South Pole to Cape Canaveral
  • Punta Arenas to Cape Canaveral


July 11, 2019

Harding and Virts Break World Circumnavigation Speed Record


One More Orbit flight crew is successful in its Pole to Pole World Circumnavigation Speed Record marking 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing and 500th anniversary of first ever global circumnavigation

Link to artwork​ , photo credit Chris Garrison.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL ​ –– At 12:12:23 UTC today, Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding, Astronaut Terry Virts and crew made history by beating the world record for any aircraft flying over the North and South poles in a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft. The mission’s record flight time is 46 hours, 39 minutes and 38 seconds.

“Our mission, titled One More Orbit, pays homage to the Apollo 11 moon landing achievement, by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics,” says Harding. “We did this during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the 500th anniversary of man first circling the planet. It is our way of paying tribute to the past, the present, and the future of space exploration.”

Qatar Executive EVP Ettore Rodaro says, “We launched on July 9, 2019 at 9:32 a.m. and landed on July 11, 2019 at 8:12 a.m. Our new world record is certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM. Our Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650 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 in. 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.”

“The mission has utilized the skills of hundreds of talented technicians across the planet and is a testament to what can be achieved when we pull together, even with crazy deadlines and time zone challenges,” says Untitled Executive Producer Jim Evans. “Our production crew covered location action for our documentary in Florida, Chile, Kazakhstan and Mauritius.”

Virts, a former Commander of the International Space Station and filmmaker known for his work on the IMAX film, A Beautiful Planet, is “chronicling the complex preparations and global effort it takes to achieve this historic record. We’ve captured a documentary about the mission, which we hope to share with audiences worldwide in the near future.”

"Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, says: “I am delighted that, as Inmarsat celebrates 40 years of innovation and chartering new digital frontiers, we have this amazing opportunity to support the 50th celebration of one of the space industry’s most momentous events; the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“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 as we too keep pushing the boundaries of what our satellite communications can do to connect the world to a better future.”

"The Carbon Underground is proud to be a partner of this historic mission,” says Larry Kopald, the company’s co-founder and president. “By calling attention to one of humankind’s greatest efforts we remind ourselves of what we are capable of doing. Alleviating the existential threat of climate change by restoring the carbon balance and cycle will take a similar effort, with a similar commitment to speed.”

The One More Orbit team thanks its sponsors, Satcom Direct and Inmarsat, for providing the satellite bandwidth and live feed from the aircraft; G-Technology; Action Aviation; LiveU encoders; and Space Florida. The Carbon Underground brings the means to make this mission carbon negative. Additionally, One More Orbit is grateful to: Canon for lenses and cameras (Len Musmeci, Tim Smith); Really Right Stuff for camera support (Verent Chan); and Convergent Design for live stream support (Dan Keaton).

ATTENTION EDITORS AND PRODUCERS​: Virts and Harding are available for post-flight interviews​.​ Look for #onemoreorbit on social media.


July 8, 2019

Hamish Harding and Col. Terry Virts to Attempt World Circumnavigation Speed Record on Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER Aircraft


One More Orbit team take on Pole to Pole World Circumnavigation Speed Record for any aircraft to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing and the 500th anniversary first global circumnavigation

What

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –– Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding and Astronaut Terry Virts will attempt to beat the world record for any aircraft flying over the North and South poles from July 9 to 11. Flying a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft, they will off-set their emissions by going carbon negative with the help of sponsor, Carbon Underground.

Who

Meet the International Crew

Capt. Hamish Harding - United Kingdom, Action Aviation chairman, mission director and one of the 4 G650ER pilots; Col. Terry Virts - United States, Former International Space Station commander, Space Shuttle astronaut, Soyuz astronaut and U.S. Air Force test pilot; Capt. Jacob Ove Bech - Denmark, Pilot; Capt. Jeremy Ascough - South Africa, Pilot; Capt. Yevgen Vasylenko - Ukraine, Pilot; Magdalena Starowicz - Poland, Flight Attendant; Col. Genaddy Padalka - Russia, Cosmonaut (International Space Station commander, Mir and Soyuz cosmonaut, record holder for the most days in space by any human - 879 days); Capt. Ian Cameron - United Kingdom, Director of the Mission Control Centre.

When

The One More Orbit mission launches at 09:32 on July 9 – the same time as the historic Apollo 11 flight.

Where

The team will launch will launch from and return to Space Florida's Launch and Landing Facility (the former Shuttle Landing Facility) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, from where Apollo 11 launched its historic mission 50 years ago. They will do high speed, adrenaline pumping “pit stops” to refuel in Kazakhstan, Mauritius and Chile.

Why

The mission, titled One More Orbit, pays tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing achievement, by highlighting how humans push the boundaries of aeronautics. The record is being attempted during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the 500th anniversary of man first circling the planet. It is a tribute to the past, present, and future of space exploration.

The Aircraft

The fastest ultra-long-range business jet in the world, the Gulfstream G650ER is capable of reaching Mach 0.925 and sustaining a comfortable Mach 0.90. Powered by two Rolls-Royce BR725 A1-12 Turbofans, generating 16,900 lbs of thrust, the extended range variant is capable of flying 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km) at up to 51,000 feet altitude. The Qatar Executive G650ER aircraft can easily fly non-stop from the Middle East to North America, or from destinations in Asia to Africa. It flies further, faster than any other jet of its kind – perfectly suited for the long legs of One More Orbit.

Going Carbon Negative

“The Carbon Underground is proud to be a partner of this historic mission,” says Larry Kopald, the company’s co-founder and president. “By calling attntion to one of humankind’s greatest efforts we remind ourselves of what we are capable of doing. Alleviating the existential threat of climate change by restoring the carbon balance and cycle will take a similar effort, with a similar commitment to speed.”

Sponsoring the mission are: Satcom Direct and Inmarsat, which are providing the satellite bandwidth and live feed from the aircraft; G-Technology hard drives; Action Aviation leadership logistics; LiveU encoder; and Space Florida. The Carbon Underground brings the means to make this mission carbon negative.

ATTENTION EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Virts and Harding are available for interviews pre, during and post flight. Brown badged local media can attend the landing. For more information please visit www.OneMoreOrbit.com, or email meredith@ebcoms.com.


June 27, 2019

Hamish Harding and Col. Terry Virts to Attempt World Circumnavigation Speed Record on Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER Aircraft


Team will attempt Pole to Pole World Circumnavigation Speed Record for any aircraft to mark 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –– Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding and Astronaut Terry Virts will attempt to beat the world record for circling the globe via both poles from July 9-11, 2019 on board a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft.

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 July 9, 2019 at 9:32 a.m. – the same time as the original Apollo 11 flight.

“To break the current record, which is unchallenged since 2008, we’ll need to push the limits of speed and aircraft performance,” says 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 inflight connectivity provider Satcom Direct, documenting the 25,000-mile (40,000 km) journey,” says Virts, a former Commander of the International Space Station and NASA Space Shuttle pilot. “My ISS crewmate, Russian cosmonaut Col. Gennady Padalka, will be joining us in the spirit of international cooperation as we fly 'one more orbit.'”

“Qatar Executive is very proud to partner with One More Orbit to make this attempt at breaking the world record possible,” said Ettore Rodaro, Executive Vice President, Qatar Executive. “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.”

“Action Aviation is delighted to partner with Qatar Executive for the mission, which launches from Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (formerly Shuttle Landing Facility) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, heading directly to the North Pole,” says Harding.

“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 Jim Evans producer at 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 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, 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; and Space Florida.

ATTENTION EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Virts and Harding are available for interviews. To attend the landing, media will need to be NASA accredited to visit Kennedy Space Center before July 1. Please contact Sara Shell, Space Florida Public Relations Manager at: SShell at spaceflorida.gov.