Posted April 29, 2009

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COM DEV successfully demonstrates advanced space-based AIS technology

Validation satellite achieves one year of on-orbit operations

CAMBRIDGE - COM DEV International Ltd. announced that its first experimental satellite, NTS, has successfully completed one year in orbit, validating COM DEV's high-performance detection capability for its advanced space-based AIS (Automatic Identification System) technology. This technology enables the highly accurate tracking and monitoring of maritime traffic from pole to pole and across the globe, even in areas of high shipping density. Launched on April 28, 2008, NTS has now mapped global shipping traffic many times over and has provided the technical foundation for an operational system which is currently under construction.

Initial operations of this system will commence in 2010.

“Our demonstration satellite has shown that our proprietary technology is uniquely capable of reliably detecting and de-colliding large numbers of AIS signals in the antenna field of view. The result is an ability to secure a high level of vessel detection on a global scale with the minimum number of spacecraft. This is an important performance characteristic as AIS transmissions are being sent simultaneously from literally thousands of ships that could be in the field of view of a passing satellite at any one time,” said John Keating, CEO of COM DEV. “We believe this capability and vessel data will be of great interest to maritime authorities around the globe. For a country like Canada with a vast coastline and an increasing interest in monitoring maritime activity in the Arctic, this technology would make it possible for the first time to keep track of ships within or approaching territorial waters.”

The success of the NTS mission represents the culmination of more than five years of focused system and technology development. NTS, an eight kilogram nanosatellite orbiting every 90 minutes at an altitude of 630 km in a polar sun-synchronous orbit, was launched to validate COM DEV’s advanced space-based AIS detection technology as a precursor to the deployment of a constellation of full-performance AIS satellites. The first phase of this complete operational system is currently under construction and is expected to be launched in early 2010. This operational system will provide a comprehensive global AIS monitoring capability to competent maritime authorities around the world. The constellation will provide near real-time information on the identity, location and movements of marine vessels that can be used to establish a vessel traffic management system, protect sovereignty and security interests, improve maritime safety, and enhance monitoring of fisheries and the environment.

All ocean-going vessels, and vessels larger than 300 tons, are required by the International Maritime Organization to transmit AIS signals. Until now, however, the data has been collected primarily by shore-based and ship-borne receivers where range is limited to approximately 50 nautical miles. A fully operational space-based AIS system would offer unprecedented visibility into global maritime activity. Using data collected by NTS, COM DEV has generated the first-ever map of the distribution of worldwide AIS ship traffic. COM DEV is currently evaluating alternatives for commercializing its AIS solution.

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