September 4, 2020


CNES has been working for a long time with the European Commission and GSA to establish the SAR Galileo system and the Cospas-Sarsat Return Link.

Since 2016, CNES has been guaranteeing delivery of the SAR Galileo service on behalf of the European Commission under a specific framework contract.

The SAR Galileo service is Europe’s contribution to the Cospas-Sarsat Programme.
This contribution consists in providing the Galileo satellites and their SAR payloads and the SAR Galileo Ground Segment.

The SAR Galileo Ground Segment comprises:

  • Three local user terminals (MEOLUTs) in Spain, Norway and Cyprus
  • A MEOLUT Tracking Coordination Facility (MTCF) at CNES in Toulouse, which coordinates LUTs
  • A network of reference beacons in Spain, Norway, Cyprus, France and Portugal for monitoring of the Forward Link and Return Link services
  • A Return Link Service Provider (RLSP) for generation and transmission via the Galileo L1 navigation message of a Return Link Message (RLM) that informs the user their distress call has been received by a ground station

Working within this framework, CNES’s team is responsible for sustaining the SAR Galileo Ground Segment, coordinating operations and maintenance with host sites and monitoring performance of the ground and space segments.

The SAR Galileo Service Centre is located at CNES’s facility in Toulouse, which accommodates the coordination and supervision resources.

From a programmatic perspective, CNES, drawing on its role and expertise within the Cospas-Sarsat community, is helping the European Commission to define standards and concepts of operation required to guarantee interoperability with the existing Cospas-Sarsat system and the adoption of the new features afforded by SAR Galileo.

CNES was closely involved in developing the RLSP for the European Commission.
The agency was responsible for technical and operational definition, oversight of development and validation of the system to meet the stringent security requirements.
In this respect, CNES played a key role in the physical security and information system accreditation of the system, required to connect to the Galileo mission ground segment.

As operator and host of the SAR Galileo service, CNES also supported GSA in gearing up for the Return Link service, helping notably to validate and demonstrate it to the international Cospas-Sarsat community. Lastly, the agency also contributed actively to getting the system officially adopted through its role as France’s representative within the Cospas-Sarsat organization.

CNES is currently in charge of operating this Return Link, with responsibility for its sustainment and security and for collecting performance indicators. It is required to ensure service availability of more than 99.5% for the European Commission and the international SAR user community.

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