A mission control center (MCC) serves as the hub of information sent by the Cospas-Sarsat system. The main function of an MCC is to collect, store, and sort alert data from LUTs and other MCCs, and to distribute alert data to RCCs, SPOCS, and other MCCs. All Cospas-Sarsat MCCs are interconnected through nodal MCCs that handle data distribution in a particular region of the world. Currently, there are six (6) data distribution regions served by the United States, France, Russia, Australia, Japan and Spain. The system utilizes several communication modes to ensure the reliable distribution of alert data and system information.
The United States Mission Control Center (USMCC) in Suitland, MD (a suburb of Washington, DC) serves as the focal point of U.S. Cospas-Sarsat alert data. The USMCC matches beacon signals to identify those coming from the same source and merges them to improve position accuracy. Registration information is then appended to the 406 MHz beacon distress alerts that are registered in the U.S. The location of the alert is geographically sorted and the data is distributed to the appropriate recipient (Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), foreign SPOC or other MCC).
The USMCC is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and co-located with NOAA's Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF). The operation is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, the vast majority of alert data distribution is handled automatically. The USMCC is administered by the Direct Services Branch of NOAA which also represents U.S. interests in international Cospas-Sarsat meetings.