Medium Earth Orbiting Search and Rescue

MEOSAR stands for Medium Earth Orbiting Search and Rescue. The search and rescue receivers are placed on the GPS satellites operated by the United States, Russia, and Europe. These satellites are medium-altitude Earth orbit, at an altitude between 19,000 and 24,000 km. This next generation satellite system gives almost instantaneous locations and worldwide coverage for a vastly improved search and rescue system.

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The MEOSAR system gives global coverage and near instantaneous detection and locations. This is done when 3 or more MEO satellites receive the signal of the beacon and uses trilateration to calculate a location.


The MEOSAR system has overcome the various disadvantages of the LEO/GEOSAR systems. GEO satellites cannot calculate locations, only receive encoded locations and LEO satellites only orbit every 100 minutes which can cause a delay in an alert message.

Satellite Constellations

Search and Rescue Standards are set and overseen by COSPAS-SARSAT, an international satellite system for search and rescue. The SAR payloads are being placed on MEO satellites used for navigation by the United States, Europe and Russia.

Distress Beacons

There are three types of distress beacons, EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters), and PLBs (Personal Locating Beacons). They all send a 406 MHz signal.