McMurdo Wins NOAA Award to Expand SAR Geographic Areas

Very first rescue using SARSAT/COSPAS, which took place 300 miles off the coast of New England on October 10, 1982. (Credit: USCG)
First-of-its-Kind Ground Station Capability Extends Existing Infrastructure. Pictured here: Very first rescue using SARSAT/COSPAS, which took place 300 miles off the coast of New England on October 10, 1982. (Credit: USCG)

McMurdo, the most trusted name in emergency readiness and response, and a 2016 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Winner, has been awarded a $6.67 million USD contract by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.

McMurdo will provide NOAA fourth generation search and rescue (SAR) ground stations, or Local User Terminals (LUT).

The new Low Earth Orbit (LEO)/Medium Earth Orbit LUTs (MEOLUTs) will provide search and rescue organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force, the ability to find individuals by their activated distress beacons in expanded geographic regions.

The increased coverage area includes the continental United States, Alaska, and parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In a typical Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue process, a distress beacon signal is sent via satellite to a local user terminal. A mission control center validates the emergency and sends critical information to rescue coordination centers. MEOSAR, the next-generation version of Cospas-Sarsat, will provide several unique features including a return link service function to acknowledge receipt of the distress signal.
In a typical Cospas-Sarsat search and rescue process, a distress beacon signal is sent via satellite to a local user terminal. A mission control center validates the emergency and sends critical information to rescue coordination centers. MEOSAR, the next-generation version of Cospas-Sarsat, will provide several unique features including a return link service function to acknowledge receipt of the distress signal.

A mission control center (MCC) serves as the hub of information sent by the Cospas-Sarsat system. The main function of an MCC is to collect, store, and sort alert data from LUTs and other MCCs, and to distribute alert data to RCCs, SPOCS, and other MCCs.

All current Cospas-Sarsat MCCs are interconnected through nodal MCCs that handle data distribution in a particular region of the world.

Mark Cianciolo, GM of McMurdo's aerospace, defense and government programs
Mark Cianciolo, GM of McMurdo’s aerospace, defense and government programs

The NOAA Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) program is part of the international Cospas-Sarsat system. Currently, NOAA has two MEOLUTs in Florida and Hawaii, supplied and supported by McMurdo.

“This is a new and advanced capability for the search and rescue community, combining the legacy LEOSAR and next generation MEOSAR systems to improve NOAA’s SARSAT systems,” said Mark Cianciolo, general manager of McMurdo’s aerospace, defense and government programs.

“Our nearly 40 years of innovation will enhance NOAA’s capability to process current SAR satellite signals, as well as conduct second generation beacon signal processing.”

(McMurdo is a global leader in emergency readiness and response including market-leading search and rescue and maritime domain awareness solutions. At the core of these solutions are resilient positioning, navigation and tracking products, technologies and systems that have helped to save over 37,000 lives since 1982. Courtesy of the McMurdo Group and YouTube)

“Search and rescue operations are critical for both civilian and military applications worldwide,” said Mickey Fitzmaurice, SARSAT systems engineer at NOAA.

“NOAA is committed to supporting these programs with the latest industry technology to help improve response times and provide more accurate, actionable data.”

“McMurdo is a key partner in providing cutting-edge technology solutions that support this important mission.”

(Learn More. McMurdo, Inc., is part of the Orolia Group, the world leader in resilient positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solutions that improve the reliability, performance and safety of customers’ critical, remote or high-risk operations. Courtesy of Orolia and YouTube)

With one base year and four option years, the contract includes installation, training, manuals, associated operations and maintenance, engineering support, program management, human engineering and logistic support planning requirements.

McMurdo

McMurdo is a global leader in emergency readiness and response, with the only end-to-end solutions for search and rescue (SAR) and maritime domain awareness. Fully half of the world’s SAR satellite ground infrastructure has been installed by McMurdo, and McMurdo has manufactured 25 percent of the world’s 1.2 million registered beacons.

Hundreds of customers around the world-including NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard and others in the aerospace, defense and government sectors-have trusted McMurdo to prevent emergencies, protect assets and save more than 40,000 lives since 1982.

Mickey Fitzmaurice, SARSAT systems engineer at NOAA
Mickey Fitzmaurice, SARSAT systems engineer at NOAA

To learn more about MEOSAR Performance, you may be interested in a SAR Controllers Training available online (2016 1 – 3 March 2016, Credit: Mickey Fitzmaurice NOAA Senior Systems Engineer) which includes the El Faro incident at https://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534/EmergencyBeacons/2016SarsatConf/Presentations/SAR_2016_Mar%202_MEOSAR%20Performance_Fitzmaurice.pdf