b'NOAA reserved only for emergency beacons (digital 406 MHz), it would have a digital signal that uniquely identified each beacon, and it would provide global coverage.Search And Rescue SatelliteJoint PartnershipThe SARSAT system was developed in a joint effort by the Aided Tracking (SARSAT) United States, Canada , and France. In the United States, the www.sarsat.noaa.gov SARSAT system was developed by NASA. Once the sys-tem was functional, its operation was turned over to NOAA Around the world.around the clock.NOAA proudlywhere it remains today.stands watch. As an integral part of worldwide search andAs the system began to take hold, more and more emergency rescue, NOAA operates the Search And Rescue Satellitebeacons found their way onto the market. ELTs continuedAided Tracking (SARSAT) System to detect and locate mariners,to operate exclusively on analog 121.5 MHz, but maritime aviators, and recreational enthusiasts in distress almost beacons (EPIRBs) were being built that operated on digital anywhere in the world at anytime and in almost any condition. 406 MHz. The U.S. Coast Guard in their role as maritime The SARSAT system uses NOAA satellites in low-earthsearch and rescue specialists immediately began to see the and geostationary orbits as well as GPS satellites in mediumbenefits of 406 MHz, and in 1990, took proactive steps to earth orbit to detect and locate aviators, mariners, and bring it into widespread usage. As a result, today there are land-based users in distress. The satellites relay distressover 156,000 EPIRBs in the NOAA 406 MHz Registration signals from emergency beacons to a network of groundDatabase. With 406 MHz ELTs and PLBs the number of stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center406 MHz Emergency Beacons registered now totals over (USMCC) in Suitland, Maryland. The USMCC processes the240,000! Is your beacon registered too?distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescueA similar system, COSPAS, was developed by the Soviet authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, whereUnion. The four nations, United States, Canada, Francethey are located. Truly, SARSAT takes the search out ofand the Soviet Union banded together in 1979 to form search and rescue! Cospas-Sarsat. NOAA-SARSAT is a part of the international Cospas-SarsatIn 1982, the first satellite was launched, and by 1984 the Program to which 41 nations and two independent SAR system was declared fully operational.organizations belong. To find out more about SARSAT The Cospas-Sarsat organization also continued to growplease feel free to explore our website. We hope you enjoyThe four original member nations have now beenyour visit! joined by 42 other nations, user states and organizationswww.sarsat.noaa.gov/index.html thatoperate 77 ground stations and 30 mission controlEarly Beginnings centers worldwide, or serve as Search and Rescue PointsThe beginnings of SARSAT date back to October 1972of Contact (SPOCs). when a plane carrying two U.S. congressmen crashed in aCospas-Sarsat continues to be a model of international remote region of Alaska. cooperation. During the eighties, the Soviet Union andA Cessna 310 disappeared somewhere betweenthe United States were able to put aside their Cold WarAnchorage and Juneau, Alaska, on October 16th, 1972. differences and tackle some tough technical questions. The passengers on the plane were Alaska CongressmanToday, new technology continues to evolve and theNick Begich, 40, his aide Russell Brown, 37, and Louisianamember nations are actively incorporating that technology Congressman Hale Boggs, 58, the U.S. House ofinto The Cospas-Sarsat System of Tomorrow.Representatives Majority Leader, and Pilot Don Jonz, 38.Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)A massive search and rescue effort was mounted, butThere are three types of beacons used to transmit distress to this day, no trace of them or their aircraft has ever beensignals, EPIRBs (for maritime use), ELTs (for aviation use), found. In reaction to this tragedy, Congress mandated thatand PLBs (hand held personal portable units used for all aircraft in the United States carry an Emergency Locatormulti-environment use).Transmitter (ELT). This device was designed to automaticallywww.sarsat.noaa.gov/emerbcns.htmlactivate after a crash and transmit a homing signal. Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs)Satellites in OrbitSince satellite technology was still in itsRescue Coordination Centers (RCCs) in the United States infancy, the frequency selected for ELT transmissions wasare operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force.121.5 MHz, already in use as the international aircraft distressRCCs receive Cospas-Sarsat distress alerts sent by the frequency. This system worked, but had many limitations.USMCC and are responsible for coordinating the rescue The frequency was cluttered, there was no way to verifyresponse to the distress. who the signal was originating from, and most importantly,The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at another aircraft had to be within range to receive the signal. Tyndall AFB, FL coordinates all inland SAR activities in the After several years, the limitations of analog ELTs began continental U.S., but does not directly prosecute SAR cases. to outweigh their benefits. At that time, a satellite based In most situations, the actual search and rescue is carried system was conceived. It would operate on a frequencyout by the Civil Air Patrol, state police or local rescue services. 18 Military Appreciation Resource Magazine Aberdeen Proving Ground'