Maritime Communications

Space Based Maritime Communications

Space data as a service

Developing The Next Generation of Maritime Communications

Together with ORBCOMM and Saabb, we are developing the next generation of maritime communication services, directed to vessel operators as well as for safety of and navigation services. The ultimate aim is to create a global maritime communication network enabling ship to ship and ship to shore communication everywhere on the globe. We will do this through our next-generation space-based VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) spacecraft and integrating data into distribution centres for maritime communications service deployment.


VDES Maritime Communications

Our vision is to pioneer the world’s foremost global maritime communications and navigation systems, bringing about substantial enhancements for seafarers, the shipping industry, and the overall health of our planet. 

Introducing VDES (AIS 2.0), which stands for VHF Data Exchange System, represents a significant advancement in navigation communication technology compared to today’s AIS system. It is designed to provide vessels with a more efficient and reliable means of data exchange and communication while at sea. 

VDES Applications

The global adoption of VDES will revolutionize how vessels operate at sea, introducing a comprehensive array of applications that will have a profound and transformative impact on maritime operations. Below are some application services powered by VDES. 

  • E-Navigation and Weather Routing 
  • Maritime Safety and Search and Rescue (SAR) 
  • Vessel Traffic Management 
  • Environmental Monitoring 
  • Port Operations and Logistics 
  • Fisheries Management 
  • Ice Navigation 


VDES operates on the VHF (Very High Frequency) band, offering several key benefits for maritime operations. 

Enhanced Data Exchange

VDES enables vessels to exchange a wide range of data, including navigational information, safety-related messages, and operational data, in real-time. This enhances situational awareness for ship operators and supports safer navigation. 

Maritime Communications

Two Way Communication

Unlike its predecessor, AIS (Automatic Identification System), VDES offers bidirectional communication. This means that vessels can not only receive information but also send data and messages to other ships, shore stations, and via satellite. 

Global Reach

With the integration of satellite connectivity, VDES extends its coverage to a global scale. This global reach allows vessels to communicate and exchange data with each other and with onshore authorities anywhere in the world, even in remote ocean areas. 



VDES is designed to be a highly reliable communication system, reducing the risk of data loss or interference. This reliability is essential for critical maritime applications such as search and rescue operations and environmental monitoring. 

e-Navigation Support

VDES aligns with the goals of e-Navigation, which aims to enhance the efficiency and safety of maritime navigation. It provides a platform for seamless data exchange, improving navigation, and supporting the broader mission of e-Navigation. 


Expanded Bandwidth

VDES offers significantly greater bandwidth compared to AIS, making it capable of handling larger volumes of data. This expanded capacity supports the increasing communication requirements of modern maritime operations. 


VDES incorporates cybersecurity measures to protect data integrity and privacy, addressing the growing concerns about cyber threats in the maritime industry. 

Exchange Data Globally in Real Time

In essence, VDES represents a technological leap forward in maritime communication, offering vessels the capability to exchange data in real-time on a global scale. Its bidirectional communication, reliability, and support for wider applications make it a valuable tool for enhancing safety, efficiency, and connectivity in maritime operations. 

As part of our collaboration, we deploy satellites into space to validate the VDES technology and test services. In this ongoing process, we have created the initial satellite in the project, Ymir-1. This was launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Transporter-9 carrier in November 2023, and marks the inception of a larger constellation of satellites, inaugurating a new chapter in maritime communication infrastructure. 


Ymir-1 was designed and built by AAC Clyde Space and carries a VDES payload from Saab, enabling seamless two-way communication between the satellite and ground-based stations. ORBCOMM plays a pivotal role in integrating data into its distribution centre for maritime communications service deployment. 

The Ymir-1 satellite serves as an in-orbit demonstrator with a specific mission – to provide essential data, laying the groundwork for the development of VDES application services. AOS leverages this data to plan the next phases of the AOS VDES Exploration Program, driving innovation and advancements in maritime communication technology. 

Link to AOS |Website

Operating within the AOS testbed, our unique capabilities constitute a comprehensive skills platform, covering all aspects of satellite-based VDES communication, interfaces, and application services. 

VDES is not merely an evolution but a revolution in maritime communication and navigation. Its multifaceted applications promise to enhance safety, environmental stewardship, operational efficiency, and global connectivity, positioning VDES as a transformative force in the maritime industry’s future. 

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