The Dawn of new opportunities as NASA teams up with Australia’s SmartSat CRC

Recently, NASA’s Search and Rescue signed a collaboration agreement with SmartSat Cooperative Research Center (CRC), an association of universities, several researcher organizations, industries, and the Australian government. NASA’s Search and Rescue office, located in Goddard Space Flight Center, seeks to support SmartSat CRC with the expertise in high-level distress-related navigational and broadcasting technologies useful to both the United States and Australia.

Christyl Johnson, the Goddard Research and Technology Investment assistant manager, expressed the excitement for the great opportunities and capabilities that the new collaboration brings. NASA’s Search and Rescue plans to provide SmartSat CRC with engineering expertise to develop innovative rescue technologies.

For over three decades, the office of NASA’s Search and Rescue researched and innovated Cospas-Sarsat’s technology, a global effort to avail satellite-aided data on distress-related locations to emergency responders around the world. The first stage of the partnership involves making improvements to NASA’s second-generation distress beacon technology. These beacons enhance the current beacon technology, providing increased accuracy to benefit users internationally.

SmartSat CRC is mandated to propose new layouts of the 406MHz beacon signals transmitted via the Cospas-Sarsat’s system. These new beacon designs continue to modernize the development of the second-generation beacons that utilize encoding techniques, initially unavailable during the establishment of the Cospas-Sarsat network in the 1970s. SmartSat CRC continues to develop improved services to clients, especially emergency experts and responders.

Lisa Mazzuca, the director of NASA Search and Rescue Mission, said that the research done by SmartSat CRC brings forth huge benefits to an international rescue initiative. The partnership between SmartSat CRC and NASA’s Search and Rescue holds the capacity to revolutionize distress-related signal transmission technologies, and later on implement future modifications to the network. 

Future stages of the partnership with SmartSat CRC aims to support exploration missions. One of them is the Artemis Program, a project that seeks to take humans back to the Moon after Apollo’s first successful Moon landing. NASA seeks to provide second-generation beacons to every astronaut in the agency’s Artemis Projects. The plan is for astronauts to use the beacons in the events such as lift-off abort scenario. NASA’s Search and Rescue team wants to use the agency’s LunaNet navigational and broadcasting architecture to expand beacon services to the Moon’s surface.

Andy Koronios, the CEO and manager of SmartSat CRC, stated that the collaboration opens up many windows of opportunities to Australia’s space industry. He expressed the company’s excitement after teaming up with Goddard’s Search and Rescue office. Andy stated that the collaboration with NASA fosters a relationship to help SmartSat CRC join in the initiative to take humankind to the Moon and the planets. 

In conclusion, the partnership between SmartSat CRC and NASA’s Search and Rescue is among the many collaborations NASA undertakes to pass down its expertise in space technology to all humankind on Earth.