When one sees the map of the world, Qatar may seem geographically smaller but it is second to none when it comes to major international achievements and visionary steps.
One More Orbit is the accomplishment that to a great extent owns its success to the visionary mindset that has already been driving Qatar to international repute and glory. The identically named documentary and the flight it recorded circumnavigating the Earth in record speed might not have been possible if Qatar Executive had not courageously offered one of its premier jets for the journey.
Marking the 50th anniversary of man’s landing on moon, the One More Orbit mission team and Qatar Executive joined hands last year for the world circumnavigation speed record using the Gulfstream G650ER plane. The documentary that was recently screened for a select gathering at Novo Cinema in Souq Waqif offers real time excitement and the challenges that both the flight and the film crew faced during the world record flight.
The QE Gulfstream G650ER departed Cape Canaveral on July 9, 2019 at 9:32am to begin its pole-to-pole mission. The onboard One More Orbit team comprised Terry Virts, Nasa astronaut; Hamish Harding, Action Aviation chairman; Jacob Obe Bech, Jeremy Ascough and Yevgen Vasylenko, Qatar Executive pilots; Benjamin Reuger, Qatar Executive engineer; Magdalena Starowicz, flight attendant; Jannicke Mikkelsen, live streaming cinematographer, with friends and families of the crew completed the team.
The mission was split into four sectors. The first leg was from Nasa Shuttle landing facility in Florida in US to Astana in Kazakhstan. The second flight was from Astana to Mauritius. The third leg was from Mauritius to Chile, considered the most dangerous. The final flight was from Chile to back to Nasa, Florida, with refuelling pit stops at each location. The aircraft landed at Kennedy Space Centre on July 11, successfully setting the new world record of flying pole to pole in 46 hours, 39 minutes and 38 seconds, breaking the previous record time of 52 hours and 32 minutes.
Qatar Executive and the One More Orbit team also broke 11 other records during the mission. These records include: North Pole to South Pole in 22 hours, 7 minutes; Cape Canaveral to North Pole in 7 hours, 34 minutes; Cape Canaveral to Astana in 12 hours, 16 minutes; North Pole to Astana in 4 hours, 42 minutes; North Pole to Mauritius in 13 hours, 24 minutes; Astana to South Pole in 17 hours, 25 minutes; Mauritius to South Pole in 8 hours, 43 minutes; Mauritius to Punta Arenas, Chile in 12 hours, 28 minutes; South Pole to Punta Arenas in 3 hours, 45 minutes; South Pole to Cape Canaveral in 14 hours, 45 minutes; and Punta Arenas to Cape Canaveral in 11 hours.
In addition to setting the new pole-to-pole world speed record, Magdalena Starowicz, Qatar Executive’s flight attendant during the mission, became the first woman in history to complete the polar circumnavigation of the earth. The mission was not easy as the crew had to maintain the weight in the flight, its temperature, and speed keeping in mind the weather conditions, the refuelling landing, the on flight schedule, the varying temperatures in both the poles etc.
The One More Orbit team shot the documentary capturing all the drama, excitement and challenges of the entire mission, from planning through to execution and finally, the successful touchdown at Cape Canaveral, the home of Nasa. The documentary was produced by Untitled and directed by Nasa astronaut Terry Virts, one of the team members on board the Gulfstream G650ER during the mission.
Talking to Community on the eve of the special screening of the documentary One More Orbit in Doha, Jim Evans, executive producer of Untitled Inc., a Los Angeles-based production house, said: “Many people said that One More Orbit was not possible. Within five weeks, we assembled a multicultural film crew from dozens of countries around the world and live streamed the entire event, working with Inmarsat [a British satellite telecommunications company] and SD Com [a PR and press agency, specialised in in transport and logistics] to reposition satellites specifically for the mission.
“We faced real problem in coping with the ideal weight that we could carry during the flight to keep it lighter — to be faster. We also worked with Nasa and had to move the satellites ensuring the live streaming and determining the location of the flight. We wanted to have some big acting names but again it would overload the jet. Multi-talented astronaut Terry Virts, a former commander of the International Space Station, excelled himself directing the documentary, while simultaneously participating in the record.”
Terry said: “One More Orbit mission is so much more than just a world record. It is an adventure unlike any other. Celebrating Apollo’s 50th and Magellan’s [Ferdinand Magellan, organiser of the first circumnavigation of the Earth in 1519] 500th anniversaries, we did something that had never been done before, with an amazing international crew. There has also never been a documentary made like this done before and we hope the viewers will laugh, feel the tension of crossing the South Pole in the Antarctic winter and be inspired.”
Ettore Rodaro, executive vice-president, Qatar Executive, said: “The successful accomplishment of this mission has been possible thanks to meticulous preparation on all levels, throughout all departments of Qatar Executive. Thanks to the Qatar Airways network around the globe, we were able to prepare every fuel stop efficiently and swiftly, a major component in breaking the world speed records. We wrote history during that mission, something that will remain in the books for a long time. It is an exciting feeling to have mastered the challenge through excellent teamwork and using first-class equipment.
“I have nothing to do with the film business; I am really excited to see the documentary. It has been pretty amazing. The project also shows how amazing Qatar as a country is providing us with such an opportunity. We actually transported our brand all over the world.
“Qatar Executive is the launch customer for Gulfstream’s recently introduced flagship jet, the Gulfstream G700TM. The new aircraft brings an unprecedented combination of performance, technology and cabin size to Qatar Executive’s fleet.”
THING OF BEAUTY: 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 delivering 16,900 pounds of thrust, the extended range variant is capable of flying 7,500 nautical miles at up to 51,000ft.