Press Releases

    11 March 2005

    United Nations Holds Training Course on Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue

    VIENNA, 11 March (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, will hold a five-day Training Course on Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue, focusing on improving the use of the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). The training course, which is being organized in cooperation with the Government of Australia, will take place in Canberra, Australia, from 14 to 18 March.

    Representatives from government institutions and private industry from the Pacific region will be briefed on both practical and cost-effective space-based solutions that are currently available through Cospas-Sarsat, which is a satellite and ground system designed to help search and rescue operations at sea, in the air or on land. The system works with emergency beacons that send distress alert signals and location information to satellites, which then transmit the information to search and rescue teams. Founded in the late 1970s by Canada, France, the former Soviet Union and the United States, the system started operating in 1982. Since then, it has helped in saving more than 17,000 people in over 4,800 distress situations.

    More than 35 countries now help operate Cospas-Sarsat, whose importance continues to grow as the number of countries joining the system to access its advantages and benefits rises. The system is available to every country and is free of charge for the end-user in distress. 

    The primary objective of the training course is to promote awareness of Cospas-Sarsat and to establish a formal and reliable protocol with the user countries, for a better understanding and coordination of the system’s activities and operations. This, in turn, will facilitate the vital role of Cospas-Sarsat in saving lives.

    While many countries have established effective search and rescue services, a lot of them have not tapped into the tremendous resources that Cospas-Sarsat can provide. In the Pacific region, currently only Australia and New Zealand participate in the system by providing mission control centres and ground-segment equipment. There is an urgent need for capacity building in terms of education, training and policy-making, in order to enable countries in the region to benefit from these services. 

    Participants from the following countries, territories and international organizations are expected to attend the training course: Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, American Samoa, New Caledonia, Niue, Cospas-Sarsat and OOSA. 


    For more information:
    Raechelle Newman
    Associate Programme Officer
    United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
    Tel: +43-1-260 60 4946

    The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at