Space Newsfeed

Satellite Communications Technology

Canada to acquire Thales advanced ground segment technology to respond to distress signals

(18 June 2018 - Thales Alenia Space) Canada has awarded Thales Canada Phase II of the MEOSAR (Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue) Ground Segment contract.

It will support Canada’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to distress signals from land, air and sea from coast-to-coast-to-coast; enabling Canada to meet its obligations under the International COSPAS-SARSAT Programme Agreement. The contract includes the procurement of two MEOLUTs and maintenance services for five years with options for an additional five years.

canada 1

(courtesy: Thales Alenia Space)

Using Thales Alenia Space’s powerful and compact MEOLUT Next phased array solution, Canada will benefit from the world’s first space borne search and rescue system of this type. Thales Alenia Space designs, operates and delivers satellite-based systems for governments and institutions, helping them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere. Since its commissioning in 2016, MEOLUT Next has delivered unrivalled performance, detecting distress signals more than 5,000km away.

This new capability saves lives. On July 2, 2017 at 6:30 a.m., 70 kilometres off the coast of Sardinia, a 12-meter sailboat with three people aboard triggered its COSPAS/SARSAT beacon when its rudder broke and its engine failed. Its VHF radio out of range, the sailors quickly realized they were in a critical situation with waves over four meters high and the wind blowing at 40 knots. MEOLUT Next was able to receive and process their distress signals in less than five minutes, providing accurate positioning to authorities. An airplane identified the boat less than two hours after the beacon was triggered and a helicopter airlifted the crew to safety, saving all three lives.

“Thales Canada is proud to deliver world class solutions that will make life better and keep us safer,” said Jerry McLean, Managing Director and Vice President, Thales Canada. “From complex C4ISR systems to integrated maritime C3 and diverse aerospace solutions, this contract further reflects Thales’ continued commitment to Canadian innovation.”

“We are confident that our solution will meet and exceed Canada’s MEOSAR expectations, offering Canada a decisive technology for its decisive moments,” said Philippe Blatt, VP Navigation France at Thales Alenia Space. “Today, MEOLUT Next is the only solution in the world capable of processing second-generation beacons in real time. Its operational efficiency was recently recognized by Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) for its humanitarian contributions”.

COSPAS/SARSAT

COSPAS/SARSAT is an intergovernmental organization founded by Canada, the United States, Russia and France. In operation in 43 countries around the world, this satellite-based search and rescue distress alert detection and information distribution system is best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships and backcountry hikers in distress. Today, some 500,000 ships and 150,000 aircraft are equipped with COSPAS/SARSAT distress beacons. To date, the COSPAS-SARSAT service has saved more than 37,000 lives.

MEOLUT Next

Conventional MEOLUT (Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminal) systems use large parabolic antennas and are limited by how many satellite signals they can receive. Thales Alenia Space's MEOLUT Next solution is compact, measuring less than six square meters, with the ability to track up to 30 satellites, significantly enhancing the distress beacon detection rate while expanding the coverage zone. Since there are no mechanical components, hardware maintenance costs are the lowest on the market.

About Thales

The people we all rely on to make the world go round – they rely on Thales. Our customers come to us with big ambitions: to make life better, to keep us safer. Combining a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, our architects design and deliver extraordinary high technology solutions. Solutions that make tomorrow possible, today. From the bottom of the oceans to the depth of space and cyberspace, we help our customers think smarter and act faster - mastering ever greater complexity and every decisive moment along the way. With 65,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €15.8 billion in 2017.

About Thales Canada

A national leader in research and technology, Thales Canada combines its more than 50 years of experience with the talent of 1,800 skilled people located coast-to-coast. With revenues of $500 million, Thales Canada offers leading capabilities in the urban rail, civil aviation and defence and security sectors that meet the needs of customers’ most complex requirements across every operating environment.

About Thales Alenia Space

Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space engineers design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet's – and our solar system’s – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind’s new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.4 billion euros in 2016 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.