Beacon Awareness Day (#406Day) on April 6 is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work carried out by Search and Rescue teams around the world that risk their lives on a daily basis to save people in distress. It also aims to remind the owners of Search and Rescue beacons the need to register their beacon and test them in a regular basis, in particular for what concerns their batteries and, for those already registered, to update their Cospas-Sarsat contact details.
On #406Day2021, we celebrate Search and Rescue teams all around the world. But why 406? Well, 406 Day, as April 6th is written in the US where the initiative emerged, is a reference to the 406 MHz frequency of the Search and Rescue beacons used by the international rescue organisation Cospas-Sarsat. These beacons help save an average of seven lives every day around the world.
The Galileo SAR service is Europe’s contribution to Cospas-Sarsat and, as of January 2020, Galileo provides also the system with a unique feature – its Return Link Service. The Return Link provides the transmitting distress beacon with acknowledgement that the distress signal has been received, its position has been determined and that rescue teams are alerted. This is a major morale booster for the people calling for assistance and, so far, Galileo is the only GNSS to offer such a service to end users.
“Galileo’s Return Link Service is a unique feature that is a perfect example of the GSA’s core mission of linking space to user needs. It is a great European Union achievement. The GSA has also been supporting the development of beacons that are Return Link enabled, in an effort to facilitate the work of the Search and Rescue services, whose generous work we celebrate today,” said GSA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa.
The GSA and its partners – the European Commission, ESA, and CNES - are proud to provide Europe’s contribution to Cospas-Sarsat by placing the Galileo constellation at the disposal of Search and Rescue teams. In just over a year, the last Cospas-Sarsat Council endorsed the Galileo Return Link functionality, allowing the service to finalise the transition to Return Link Service Full Operational 24/7 and global Capacity.
Galileo will continue to provide rescue teams with the best tools possible. To ensure this, consultations are carried out with operational Search and Rescue units to collect their views and expectations, so that the next evolutions of the Galileo SAR will match their operational needs as closely as possible, allowing them to save even more lives in the future.
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