GNSS-based Search and Rescue Support to Human Spaceflight

Lisa Mazzuca, James. J. Miller, Anthony Foster, Cody Kelly, A. J. Oria, Madeleine Bronstein

Abstract: The Search and Rescue (SAR) Mission Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is working with national and international partners to complete development of the next generation of satellite-based SAR. When an emergency beacon is activated on an airplane, ship, or by a user on land the signal is broadcast and then tracked by one or more satellites. This signal is then relayed to specialized ground stations for location determination and dissemination to rescue personnel. Todate such signals have been tracked using hosted payloads on a combination of polar-orbiting Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites, but the international community is now implementing such capability on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The MEO segment for SAR is also referred to MEOSAR. MEOSAR, when fully implemented, will be hosted on GNSS constellations including the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s GLONASS, and possibly China’s BeiDou. A particular area of interest to NASA is the use of MEOSAR for search and rescue of astronauts in the event of a launch-abort and during landing. This capability was demonstrated on Oct. 11, 2018, during the launch-abort of the Soyuz MS-10 carrying a new U.S.-Russia crew to the International Space Station. During this event the MEOSAR Local User Terminal (MEOLUT) at GSFC was the only ground station that received the Soyuz emergency beacon transmissions relayed from one Galileo and one GPS Distress Alerting Satellite System (DASS) -capable spacecraft. Initial location was determined upon parachute deployment, and final position was determined upon landing with a 1.6 km location error. Related activities include working with NASA’s Orion Program and SpaceX on SAR capabilities to support U.S. human missions. This includes field testing of the next generation SAR beacons to be used for NASA’s Orion crews, of which 30 units have been delivered for use on astronaut emergency vests.
Published in: Proceedings of the 32nd International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2019)
September 16 - 20, 2019
Hyatt Regency Miami
Miami, Florida
Pages: 1554 - 1565
Cite this article: Mazzuca, Lisa, Miller, James. J., Foster, Anthony, Kelly, Cody, Oria, A. J., Bronstein, Madeleine, "GNSS-based Search and Rescue Support to Human Spaceflight," Proceedings of the 32nd International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2019), Miami, Florida, September 2019, pp. 1554-1565.
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