New site in Greenland to enhance Galileo SAR

New site in Greenland to enhance Galileo SAR

On May 17, 2023, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and Naviair, signed a cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening the monitoring capabilities of the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) Service by establishing a new site in Greenland. This collaboration marks a significant step towards ensuring the redundancy, of the SAR/Galileo system and therefore the safety and security of the European Union and its surrounding regions.

EUSPA, as the user-oriented operational agency of the EU Space Programme, is dedicated to promoting sustainable growth, security, and safety within the European Union. Naviair, a company owned by the Danish state and represented by the Ministry of Transport, specializes in air navigation and related infrastructure services.

The SAR/Galileo component of the EU Space Programme plays a crucial role in the detection of emergency signals transmitted by distress beacons in support of the internationally recognized Search and Rescue (SAR) Cospas-Sarsat programme. As part of this programme, the Galileo SAR Service utilises SAR instruments onboard Galileo satellites, Medium Earth Orbit Local User Terminals (MEOLUTs), and a network of SAR Reference Beacons (REFBE) located across Europe.

Recognizing the need to strengthen SAR Service monitoring capabilities, particularly around the edges of the European area, EUSPA and Naviair have joined hands to extend the ground segment and the current capabilities. As part of the agreement, Naviair will contribute to the Galileo Programme objectives by procuring, deploying, hosting, and operating a REFBE nearby the Kangerlussuaq airport in Greenland.  This initiative will play a pivotal role in supporting SAR Service monitoring in cooperation with EUSPA.

SAR Reference Beacons in European Coverage Area and Indian Coverage Area


Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director of EUSPA, highlighted that “Naviair’s commitment aligns perfectly with the goals of EUSPA to constantly strengthen and advance the capabilities and services provided ensuring the safety and security of individuals within the European Union and beyond.” 

Mads Kvist Eriksen, Chief Executive Officer of Naviair, expressed his enthusiasm about this collaboration, stating, “Naviair is looking forward to hosting a SAR/Galileo Reference Beacon in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, to support SAR Service monitoring capabilities around the edges of the European area in cooperation with EUSPA.” 

In addition, the cooperation agreement between EUSPA and Naviair sets a precedent for future partnerships, clearly exemplifying the spirit of international cooperation that drive the Search and Rescue efforts worldwide.

The new SAR/Galileo Site and REFBE will be strategically located around the margins of the declared Service Coverage Area (see Figure 2) and will be fully integrated to SAR Ground Segment, raising the number of REFBEs to total of eight. The REFBEs provide data for service performance monitoring and there are currently five in the European Coverage Area and two in the Indian Ocean Coverage Area.

The REFBEs are fitted with vertical linear polarized antenna that transmit timely synchronised signals equivalent to a standard 406 MHz Cospas-Sarsat beacon which combined to their well-known position enables specific SAR/Galileo Service performance indicators to be derived.

The new site is bound to be ready by the fourth quarter of 2023.

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