SmartSat and NASA partner on SAR beacon technology development

Australia’s SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) has agreed with NASA to further develop new Search and Rescue (SAR) beacon technologies.

In 2020, NASA and SmartSat announced a collaboration to advance satellite-based emergency communications and SAR, combining communications and navigation technology. This new project builds on that collaboration.

The project is studying a new LunaSAR system for future human exploration on the surface of the moon. Astronaut safety is paramount and the ability to reliably communicate an emergency incident must be maintained, even if other services are not available.

Similar to distress beacons on Earth, this system will provide miniature low power radio beacons mounted on space suits and lunar rover vehicles. The technology will support SOS and two-way messaging over a lunar orbiting satellite constellation. It will also allow the beacon location to be accurately determined, in the absence of GPS. This information will be provided securely and quickly to both the mission control centre on Earth and the response team on the moon who are able to take immediate action.

“NASA is delighted to advance technology in this field, which will allow our astronauts exploring the Moon to do so knowing they have a system focused solely on their safety. This is pioneering work that takes such a dedicated international partnership to get to fruition,” said Lisa Mazzuca, Chief of NASA Search and Rescue office.

“This agreement is not just a fantastic development for Safety from Space’s low-power, high-efficiency safety technology, it signals that Australia’s space sector is developing globally important technologies. NASA has been instrumental in the development journey for this essential safety technology – and while it is early stages, we now have the further potential of this Australian-developed tech playing an important role in Lunar and Martian exploration missions under the Artemis program,” said Andy Koronios, CEO of SmartSat.

Photo: NASA