Com Dev has received a contract from the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) to supply search-and-rescue repeaters for the US Air Force’s (USAF) next generation Global Positioning System (GPS III) satellite systems.
Representing the first phase of the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) project, the C$4.7m ($4.6m) contract covers design and development of the repeater over the next 15 months, as reported by SpaceNews.
The contract also features a C$14m ($13.9m) option, which when exercised will expand work to include the production of a fully integrated prototype MEOSAR repeater for test and space qualification purposes.
MEOSAR repeaters are expected to significantly reduce time taken by the GPS III satellites for location of a distress signal in the orbit.
Once installed, the repeaters will detect and retransmit signals from emergency beacons to ground-based receiver stations, eventually accelerating transmission of crisis messages to appropriate authorities for quick search and rescue of isolated individuals.
The repeaters are also believed to add more capability to the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) network, an international distress alert detection system set up by Canada, France, the former Soviet Union and the US in 1979.
Com Dev is anticipating orders for the production of repeaters for 24 of 32 GPS III satellites, which will increase the contract’s value to C$50m ($49,7m), while the first repeater is expected to be launched in late 2017.
Meanwhile, the company also secured a C$11.4m ($11.3m) contract for design, development, evaluation and delivery of search and rescue repeaters for the DND’s Low Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (LEOSAR) satellite project.
In an emailed response to the news agency, Com Dev CEO Mike Pley said: ”Both are important projects that will establish new hosted payload capabilities that will assist the international community with efforts to detect, locate and rescue people that are in danger on land and at sea.”
Image: A depiction of the USAF’s GPS III satellite in orbit.