United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

United Nations/United States of America Training Course on Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue
Miami Beach, Florida, USA 02 - 06 February, 2004

Organized in cooperation with and hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the benefit of the countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region

INFORMATION NOTE

1. Background

With the use of state of art space technology services, Search and Rescue (SAR) is receiving worldwide attention. Most of the space faring nations, including United States of America, have included this as one of their important programme elements. The Cospas-Sarsat International satellite system for search and rescue provides distress alert and location information for maritime, aviation and land users, and supports the search and rescue objectives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The system is available to any country on a non-discriminatory basis and free of charge for the end-user in distress.

The system comprises:

  • a space segment operating in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO);
  • a ground segment consisting of satellite receiving stations, known as local user terminals (LUT), and data distribution centres, known as mission control centres (MCC); and
  • emergency radio beacons operating at 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz and/or 406 MHz, the characteristics of which comply with appropriate provisions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Cospas-Sarsat specifications.

Approximately 660,000 121.5 MHz emergency beacons and 250,000 406 MHz emergency beacons are currently in use worldwide.

As a humanitarian search and rescue programme, Cospas-Sarsat has been in place for over 20 years. It has been providing critical assistance in terms of real/near-real time information support that helped in rescuing over 15,700 persons in nearly 5,000 SAR events from September 1982 to December 2002.

Countries or organizations may participate in the management and the operation of the system through their association with the Cospas-Sarsat programme. There are now 36 countries and organizations formally associated with Cospas-Sarsat programme, including the 4 parties to the international Cospas-Sarsat programme agreement (Canada, France, Russian Federation and the USA), which provide and operate the space segment system. For the last 12 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been operationally providing SAR alerting services to national and international users within the United States.

With the implementation of mandatory carriage requirements for emergency distress beacons for marine vessels and aircraft, the users of the Cospas-Sarsat system are growing rapidly.

The United States SAR areas of responsibility include a large base of users from over 30 neighbouring countries. While many nations have established effective SAR services, many have not tapped into the tremendous value that Cospas-Sarsat can provide. Currently, only Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and Peru participate in the Cospas-Sarsat System by providing Mission Control Centers (MCC�s) and ground segment equipment. In the absence of well-knit space or ground segments, some nations within the Western Hemisphere have begun utilizing NOAA�s system for Search and Rescue (SAR) alerting services by becoming a SAR Point of Contact (SPOC). Still, there is an urgent need for capacity building in terms of education, training and policymaking to enable Western Hemisphere nations to appropriately benefit from these services.

As a part of this effort, the United States of America in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UN/OOSA) are jointly organizing a 5-day Training Course on Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue for the countries that are either directly under United States SAR areas of responsibility, and those countries in Latin America and Caribbean region sharing common SAR boundaries with the United

2. Dates of the Training Course:

02 - 06 February 2004

3. Location:

Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Roney-Palace Oceanfront Resort

4. Objectives and expected results

The prime objective of the Training Course is to promote an awareness of the International Cospas-Sarsat Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue Programme and to establish a formal interface with the user countries for better understanding and coordination of the programme activities and operations.

5. Programme of the Training Course

The programme of the Training Course will include, but not be limited to, the following topics:

  • System Concept
  • IMO and ICAO Regulations
  • Beacon Specifications
  • Beacon coding and registration policies and procedures
  • Data Distribution procedures
  • Understanding of the COSPAS-SARSAT distress alert formats
  • Guidelines for developing national regulatory policies
  • System testing and exercising
  • Phase out plan for 121.5/243 MHz beacons
  • Future system developments

A detailed draft programme will be made available on the Web sites of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs ( http://www.oosa.unvienna.org) and NOAA�s Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) Office ( http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov)

6. Qualification for participation

Participants should be in positions of managerial or decision making-responsibility at national institutions with programmes and activities in areas related to navigational security and Search And Rescue, in particular, the use of the Cospas-Sarsat system.

7. Language of the Training Course

Applicants must have a good knowledge of ENGLISH and SPANISH, which will be the ONLY working languages of the Training Course. Interpretation service will be provided during the main working sessions only.

8. Selection of participants

Participants will be selected jointly by the sponsors of the Training Course from nominations submitted by the governments/institutions of countries who have received this invitation within the Western Hemisphere. All applicants will be informed on the outcome of the selection process.

9. Financial arrangements

Within the limited financial resources available to the co-sponsors, a number of selected participants from developing countries will be offered financial support to attend the Training Course. Funded participants will be provided with a round trip air ticket (most economic fare) between the airport of international departure in their home country and Miami, USA. The room and board expenses of these participants for the duration of the Training Course will also be defrayed.

10. Deadline for submission of nominations

Two copies of the completed Application Form, properly endorsed by the applicant's agency/organization, should be submitted through the Office of the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in the applicant's country, so as to reach the Office of the United Nations Expert on Space Applications, Room E 0966, United Nations Office at Vienna, Vienna International Center, P.O. Box 500, A-1400, Vienna, Austria, no later than 28 November 2003. An advance copy of the Application Form may be sent directly to the Office to expedite the selection processing procedure (Fax: +43-1-26060-5830).

11. Points of Contact

For information regarding the agenda and programme of the Training Course, please contact LT Daniel Karlson, NOAA/SARSAT at the following:
Phone: +1-301-457-5678
Fax: +1-301-457-5620
Email: Daniel.Karlson@noaa.gov

or Mr. Viktor Kotelnikov, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, at the following:

Phone; +43-1-26060-4955
Fax: +43-1-26060-5830
Email: victor.kotelnikov@unvienna.org

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