From The Evening Standard
As the lorries, buses and Ubers battle in the traffic snarl of Old Street roundabout, few of their drivers ever look up. If they were to, they’d see the unsightly office block that houses the coolest HQ in town.
Inmarsat. You may never have heard of it, but it operates a dozen satellites far out in space, covering the planet with data. Each costs $500 million (£390 million) to build and launch.
All are controlled by Inmarsat’s mission control in this dingy corner of EC1. The rocket scientists — how often do you meet one of them? — sit behind a curved bank of computers in a dark room the size of a tennis court, real-life James T Kirks, Spocks and Scotties. Tapping away on keyboards, they peer at a wall of screens showing flattened maps of the world. Flashing lights indicate customers using the networks.
Next door, overlooking the humdrum East End — altitude: 82 feet above sea level — sit two pilots, a 20-something lad and a 30-something woman, hunched over their keyboards. Each fingerstroke adjusts the course of a seven-tonne spacecraft travelling at 6899mph, each about 22,000 miles above Earth’s atmosphere.
A few floors down, in an office crammed with model rockets, satellites and a stray bottle of rum sits the Inmarsat captain. Chief executive Rupert Pearce is sitting now, but he’s only using a chair for my benefit — his usual desk is one of those stand-up jobs. Tall and lean in slim jeans and open-necked shirt, he’s clearly one who spends his spare time cycling, skiing or sailing when not travelling the world visiting clients and Inmarsat’s (ahem) satellite offices. Continue >