Canada and Togo are boosting their space-borne search and rescue capabilities through the acquisition of Thales Alenia Space MEOLUT Next ground segments.
Canada has awarded Thales Canada Phase II of the MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) Ground Segment contract. It will support the country’s ability to respond to distress signals under the International COSPAS-SARSAT Programme Agreement — the satellite-based system best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships and backcountry hikers in distress.
The contract, announced on 18th June, includes the procurement of two Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminal (MEOLUT Next) phased array solutions and maintenance services for five years with options for an additional five years.
Canada will be the first country to benefit from a space-borne search and rescue system of this type, which is capable of detecting distress signals at a range of more than 5,000km.
Thales Alenia Space's MEOLUT Next solution — commissioned in 2016 — is capable of tracking up to 30 satellites, significantly enhancing the distress beacon detection rate while expanding the coverage zone.
Also on 18th June, Thales announced that Togo has signed a contract for a MEOLUT Next ground station to be installed in Lomé, Togo, to be used for the search and rescue (SAR) of persons in distress, mainly using the Galileo satellite positioning system. The fully integrated ground station comprises a compact, high-tech beam-shaping antenna (capable of taking maximum advantage of Galileo’s SAR service), a Mission Control Center (MCC) dedicated to managing and distributing alerts, and a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), which interfaces with systems already in place locally or in neighboring countries (for fire-fighters, armed forces, coast guards, etc.).