Search & Rescue


COSPAS-SARSAT is an international satellite-based search and rescue system, established by Canada, France, the United States, and the former Soviet Union in 1979. SARSAT is acronym for Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking. COSPAS is acronym for the Russian words “Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudov,” which mean “Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress,” indicative of the maritime origins of this distress alerting system.

SUPARCO is participating in an international humanitarian programme for satellite –aided search and rescue, COSPAS-SARSAT since 1990. The Govt. of Pakistan accorded approval for SUPARCO’s participation in the COSPAS-SARSAT program as Ground Segment provider and lead agency. Over the years, the satellite ground station technology has advanced tremendously and a host of more capable COSPAS-SARSAT satellites, that are not fully compatible with old ground stations like PALUT/PAMCC, have been added to the fleet. Consequently most parts of the PALUT/PAMCC have become obsolete. Due to system obsolescence and introduction of new satellite systems, as well as change of frequency from 243 MHz to 406 MHz, SUPARCO is upgrading the PALUT and PAMCC.

Coverage area for a PALUT in Karachi (2500km radius)

Successful Commissioning of the upgraded COSPAS-SARSAT Mission Control Center in Pakistan

SUPARCO has successfully completed Commissioning Test of Pakistan Mission Control Center at SUPARCO HQs Karachi under COSPAS-SARSAT International Program for support of Search and Rescue using satellite aided tracking technology.

COSPAS-SARSAT is an international satellite-based search and rescue system, established by Canada, France, the United States and the Soviet Union in 1979. The Commissioning Test was carried out from 10 Nov 2009 at 0500 – 1300 UTC to 12 Nov 2009.

Successful completion of Commissioning test recognized Pakistan as a member of the International COSPAS-SARSAT Program.

COSPAS-SARSAT program accrues the following benefits to Pakistan for efficient search and rescue operations.

  • An early indication of a possible air crash, a marine accident or beacon-equipped person in distress by receiving a radio distress signal.
  • Detection and location of distress beacons thus avoiding grid searches by a search and/or rescue aircraft which are time-consuming and highly expensive.
  • Safety of the personnel involved in search and rescue from unnecessary risks by accurate location of the distress signals.
  • Prompt detection of distress signals within an hour or so, due to the network of low earth orbiting operational satellite.