Developing Search and Rescue Technology

Search and rescue technology saves thousands of lives around the world every year. As part of an international satellite-aided search and rescue effort, the NASA Search and Rescue Office develops, tests and refines technology to help rescue people in distress. The Search and Rescue Office creates many new technologies and perfects existing ones. This helps increase the number of lives saved around the world in boating accidents, airplane crashes, and personal emergencies.

Read NASA’s latest research into emergency locator transmitter (ELT) survivability and reliability.

Meet the leaders of NASA's SAR office.

Recent Saves

For more than 40 years, NASA has supported both national and international search and rescue efforts through technology development and enhancement. The Search and Rescue Office supports both the worldwide Cospas-Sarsat program and the U.S. Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking program.

The Cospas-Sarsat program was established in 1979 as a search and rescue partnership between the U.S., Canada, France and the former Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation. The program provides accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help first responders find and rescue people in emergencies. Today, more than 40 countries and organizations are associated with the program and actively participate in the management and operation of the Cospas-Sarsat system.

The U.S. Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking program began in the 1970s and is a joint effort between four organizations: the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Air Force, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

Research and Development: SAR Technology

NASA’s Search and Rescue Office leads the development and refinement of cutting-edge search and rescue technology. Their work helps to save thousands of lives around the world annually. They work on important technology like rescue beacons for personal and commercial use, satellites, and even antennas. Learn more about these technologies at the link below.

Learn more about our research and development projects.

SAR Background
Saving lives. Developing cutting-edge technology. Collaborating around the globe.
International Search and Rescue Program

Satellite-aided search and rescue is a collaborative effort involving a number of national and international organizations. The International Cospas-Sarsat Programme was founded in 1979 to provide timely, accurate and reliable location data to first responders. The U.S. serves on the Cospas-Sarsat Council and a number of agencies are instrumental in ensuring the robustness of the search and rescue network. NASA lends its expertise in technology development through their Search and Rescue (SAR) office.