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Traveling “to the end of the world” on an Alcatel-Lucent mission

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In late 2005 we were fortunate enough to participate in the first Alcatel-Lucent mission in the Antarctic continent. The mission was to help a customer integrate a satellite solution for Brazilian Navy. We couldn’t even imagine what we would experience…

The Antarctic experience is unique and required for us to be prepared in every aspect: physically, emotionally and technically. The trip to the Antarctic continent on a Hércules C-130 aircraft from the Brazilian Air Force is exciting and it has no comfort at all: canvas chairs among tied loads of supplies and equipment. But the excitement comes from knowing that made it after going through a tough screening, and we are aware of how important this mission was. And we did it: we have deployed a full satellite solution to connect the Brazilian Navy Research Station in Antarctica to the rest of the world.

Since the initial installation back in 2005 we were still connected with the project and concerned to know that all equipment was working properly, so we were saddened to receive the news in 2012 that the station had caught fire.

What would we do now? Start all over again, rebuild? After the fire we met with the customer and the Brazilian Navy several occasions so we were able to transform this into an opportunity to bring broadband, television signal and voice communications to the rebuilt station. We developed a different plan, starting from scratch and getting ready for any unexpected event: snow, rain and winds of 250 km/h, in addition to nights spent in camping tents. The project routine is not easy: in addition to being away from our families for a long time, we often go through sudden weather changes, wearing lifejackets and experiencing situations that require our full attention most of the time. In order to rebuild the satellite station, we had to walk to the site on freezing water for 15 to 40 minutes every day. And it is not always possible to return to the ship.

But in the end, our reward is seeing everything rebuilt and running again. Nowadays there is comfort for military members, who spend more than a year at the station without seeing their family and friends. What remains is the feeling of accomplishment and why not of owning a bit of all that… and let the next return to the station come (early 2014).

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