NASA has successfully developed a next-generation search and rescue beacon that is capable of providing accurate calculations during emergencies. The new technology will be first used by the agency’s astronauts who will be returning from the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

The new beacon technology was developed by NASA’S Search and Rescue (SAR) Office for Cospas-Sarsat. This is an international program founded in 1979 through a collaborative agreement between 45 countries including the U.S., Canada and France. It was established to provide rescue responders with satellite-assisted data.

The first search and rescue system was used by Cospas-Sarsat to keep track of aviators and seafarers. It was implemented to assist first responders with important information to carry out their tasks during emergency situations.

For the new system, SAR developed a more refined system that can provide more accurate information for search and rescue operations. According to an official from SAR, the new beacon has been equipped with more precise location-tracking capabilities.

“It’s improving our beacon location accuracy from kilometers to meters,” George Theodorakos, the chief engineer for SAR said in a statement. “With a signal burst, we can calculate an accurate latitude and longitude location, which is significantly faster than the previous system.”

Before being implemented for public use, the second-generation beacon technology will be first used by NASA as part of its first human mission under the Artemis spaceflight program. The beacon, dubbed as Advanced Next-Generation Emergency Locator (ANGEL), will be part of the life vests that astronauts will use.

As previously confirmed by NASA, the first main leg of Artemis is a human mission to the Moon using the Orion spacecraft. Once astronauts have returned to Earth from their mission, they can use the ANGEL beacon to signal their location. This will allow NASA and military personnel to carry out immediate retrieval operations on the astronauts in case something happens.

“Under normal circumstances, the Orion capsule will be pulled onto the deck of a ship and astronauts will be removed by military and NASA personnel,” Cody Kelly, the survival and rescue engineer at NASA’s Johnson SPACE Center said.

“If the crew needs to egress into the water for whatever reason, they’re equipped with our life preservers, rafts and ANGEL beacons to ensure their quick recovery,” he added.

ANGEL Beacon
SAR team members and Johnson survival and rescue systems engineers conduct pool testing of Angel beacons. NASA