Launched on 15 December 2016, the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service provides aid to people in distress or imminent danger. The Galileo SAR Service relays highly accurate, timely and reliable distress alert data to Cospas-Sarsat.
Under EUSPA management, the Galileo SAR Service has undergone continuous improvements developing breakthrough features such as the Galileo Return Link Service which was declared operational in January 2020. In February 2022, the Galileo SAR reached new heights with a record-breaking location accuracy performance of 98.12% below 2km. The EU constellation is the biggest contributor to the Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR system, with experts estimating that Galileo helps to save about 2000 lives annually.
Prior to the launch of the Galileo Initial Services, to ensure that end-users make the most of the Service, the European Commission established the SAR/Galileo Data Service Provider (SGDSP) a new Entity entrusted to CNES tasked to provide the Galileo SAR Service in a safe, reliable and secure manner
Given its longstanding history with COSPAS-SARSAT and its expertise in managing space ground infrastructures, in 2015 CNES was assigned to operate the SAR Service from SAR/Galileo Service Centre (SGSC), a Galileo Service Facility hosted in the Toulouse Space Center (CNES premises). The SGSC Facility monitors the overall SAR/Galileo Ground Segment (SGS), coordinates the maintenance activities and computes in near-real-time Service key performance indicators.
"CNES has been present from the foundation of the SAR/Galileo system up to the current exploitation phase building up a unique technical expertise, thus we are proud to be able to continue our work to support the search and Rescue operations", says Philippe Baptiste, President of CNES .
EUSPA entrusts CNES once again with the responsibility of providing the SAR-Galileo services.
This new Contract will further expand the long-lasting and excellent collaboration between EUSPA and CNES in the SAR activities. It will ensure the continuation of the operations, maintenance and hosting services of the SAR/Galileo and the uninterrupted delivery of SAR signals and SAR data needed to guarantee the SAR/Galileo Service contribution to Cospas-Sarsat to the upmost standards.
"We are happy to announce the extension of our collaboration in such an important service that delivers tangible benefits to EU and global citizens. I am also very pleased to see Member States actively participating in the development, support and evolution of the EU Space Programme" —EUSPA Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa.
The duration of the Framework Contract is 10 years, which is warranted due to the international structure of the Cospas-Sarsat programme and the EUSPA objective to establish a long-term cooperation for the implementation of the current and future SAR/Galileo Services.
The operations, maintenance and hosting services to be provided will remain a unique and non-competitive market and CNES will be the only entity capable of providing the above service in support of Cospas-Sarsat.
A team of qualified CNES personnel comprised of Navigation, System, Operations and SAR experts will support EUSPA to deliver the Galileo SAR service by seamlessly operating the ground segment, maintaining the infrastructure and offering technical support, among other objectives as well. Detailed information can be found in the Galileo SAR Service Definition Document.
What’s next for Galileo SAR?
The Galileo Full Operational Capability Programme roadmap foresees evolutions in the Galileo Services and Galileo System in the field of Emergency response. Both evolutions have strict links to the SGDSP activities foreseen under the new Framework Contract as their implementation directly affect the hosting, maintenance, operations and/or the Service monitoring tasks.
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