The Satellite Industry Responds to Nepal and Other Natural Disasters

Posted on Wednesday, May 13

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On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal, causing massive damage and loss of life that has not yet been fully tallied. Homes, businesses, UNESCO World Heritage sites and terrestrial communications infrastructure – none were immune to the tremblor. In the days that have followed the quake several stories have emerged of satellite companies rushing to provide emergency telecommunications services to the stricken nation.

This leap to assist is not an isolated event. The Haiti earthquake of 2010. The Niger food crisis of 2005. Hurricane Katrina. Whenever calamity strikes the satellite industry seems to be there – amongst the first to offer the support that is crucial to providing immediate aid and restoring order. The individual players may change from crisis to crisis, but the story remains the same – vulnerable terrestrial communications systems either do not exist or have been rendered inoperable and satellite systems are brought in to fill the void.

Those of us in the satellite industry take this rapid deployment of telecommunications in our stride; it is what we do on a day-to-day basis after all. We should pause though from time to time to think about how remarkable it is that a completely functional communications system can be deployed with such speed. That such a thing is possible speaks to lifetimes of effort from a very great number of people. Together we have created something wonderful – the ability to help relieve suffering. We should all be proud of our industry for what it has contributed to the common good.

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