After close to 350 million AIS messages from over 142 000 different unique ships, the highly successful NORAIS ship-detection system from KONGSBERG/FFI on the International Space Station is to be upgraded. The next generation NORAIS 2 has several enhancements compared to the original NORAIS and is scheduled to be launched on the autonomous space vehicle, SpaceX on December 19.
The Columbus AIS (COLAIS) experiment began in June 2010, detecting signals from Automatic Identification System (AIS) units, mostly carried on a mandatory basis by all commercial vessels.
The experiment was to verify how AIS signals propagate up to Earth orbit and investigate the usability of an in-orbit AIS detecting satellite as a supplement to terrestrial AIS infrastructure. The latter has a limited range, and a satellite constellation would be complementary to cover blind spots in open oceans.