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ROSCOSMOS Spacecraft for Search and Rescue Service. / December 14, 2016 /

30 years ago on 14 December 1986, in the helicopter crash in the snow-covered cold polar tundra the first 8 our fellow-countrymen were rescued owning to distress signals relayed by spacecraft from emergency radio buoy. It was the COSPAS-SARSAT System. Since then, over 1600 our citizens (firstly of the USSR and then of Russia) have been rescued with the help of data from the global search and rescue system. To date globally, about 44 thousand people have been rescued, 12.5 thousand search-and-rescue operations have been undertaken, and an average of 5 persons receive support every day owing to data form the System.

The Satellite Search and Rescue System was initially developed under the Memorandum of Understanding among the former USSR, Canada. France and USA, signed in 1979. Following the successful completion of demonstration and evaluation phase started in September 1982, the second MoU was signed on 5 October 1984 by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France, the Department of National Defence (DND) of Canada, the Ministry of Merchant Marine (MORFLOT) of the former USSR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the USA.

The System was declared operational in 1985. The Global Search and Rescue System integrated two systems forming a single international one: the Russian COSPAS System (COSPAS is an acronym for „Space System for the Search Vessels in Distress“, and then „aviation and personal users“ were added to vessels) the similar SARSAR System of the international partners. On 1 July 1988, four States providing the space segment signed the Agreement on the International COSPAS-SARSAT Program ensuring the continuity of the System and its availability to all states on a non-discriminatory basis. In January 1992, the Russian Federation assumed responsibility for the obligations of the former Soviet Union.

The main objective of the System is to provide accurate, timely and reliable alert and location data to help search and rescue authorities assist persons in distress. The timeliness of data required to locating a person in distress at sea or in land, has a direct impact on the probability of survival of a person in distress. To achieve this objective, the COSPAS-SARSAT Participants implement, maintain, coordinate and operate a satellite system capable of detecting distress alert transmissions from radio beacons and determining their position anywhere on the globe. The System is available to all states on a non-discriminatory basis and free for people in distress.

Today, the space and ground segments of the System are being developed intensively. The Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 provides for creating radically new ground facilities of the System. A variety of space systems are equipped with the COSPAS-SARSAT transponders: GLONASS global navigation system, Luch satellite relay system, and Elektro-L hydrometeorological system. Two spacecraft of the Meteor-3M space system with the COSPAS-SARSAT transponders are expected to be launched in the near term.

ROSCOSMOS Press Service

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