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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Heard Island DXpedition rescheduled

We wish to announce that the expedition to Heard Island has been rescheduled for January, 2015.

The primary reason for this decision was the cost of using the preferred vessel, the Marion Dufresne to put the team on Heard Island for the required time. In spite of extensive negotiations and rescheduling of the cruise, it became clear that the cost of using this vessel will exceed $1 million, and therefore the total cost for the project would be about $1.5 million, as we noted earlier.

In spite of our plan to increase the team size to 50 (which the M-D can accommodate) to partially cover this cost, we reluctantly concluded that sponsorship at this level would be impossible.

We have therefore decided to delay the expedition to January, 2015, to
allow more time to restructure the project, locate a more suitable vessel,
and bring the cost more in line with projected available resources.

One benefit of this rescheduling will be to enable the mountain science
team to carry out the exploration of Big Ben on the 50th anniversary of
the first ascent (in 1965). The 3000-meter volcano on Mawson Peak is
currently erupting, and study of the changes brought by this eruption
will be safe and significant during the 2015 season. A major component
of the expedition will be to document the effects of the eruption, the
state and condition of the flanking glaciers, and the changes in evanescent lagoons on the east slopes of the mountain.

A second benefit of the restructuring is that we will plan for amateur
radio operations to be carried out over a longer time, up to 30 or more
days. Furthermore, the campsite will be located on the east side of Heard Island, enabling paths to areas of the world that were not accessible in the last operation (in 1997). With the requirement of the longer stay on Heard Island, we will be assembling a new radio team with operators who are highly experienced and dedicated to the challenge of activating Heard Island with the new project requirements.

The third benefit of rescheduling is to have the time to develop
sophisticated instrumentation and systems for state-of-the-art real-time
communications with the expedition. We will have satellite links to enable real-time reporting of the radio log (using a new version of DXA, which was successfully used on previous DXpeditions (K7C and TX5K). In addition, we plan to implement real-time interactive communications and reporting from the mountaineering team as they explore the volcano, and to enable scientific and educational groups to work interactively with the onsite team.

The budget for the restructured project will likely be significantly
less than $500k. We plan for a total team of 12-15 persons, and we will
solicit team members with experience, motivation, and multiple skills.
Except for the organizing principals, we are starting anew to build the
team for this very different mission. We will work to keep the cost to
participants below $15k, and will expect the team to work together to
find support and make the appropriate preparations. Safety will be paramount.

We will post an update on 15 June 2013, including an updated Project
Description (under DOCUMENTS).

For more information, please contact Dr. Robert Schmieder, KK6EK Organizer and Expedition leader, Schmieder (a), or
Rich Holoch, KY6R, Co-planner, rholoch (a)
We have posted updates on the expedition website


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