In a bid to improve the country's search and rescue capabilities, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) have invested in a new satellite technology which costs $8.4 million.
Called the medium-altitude Earth orbit search and rescue (MEOSAR) ground system, it uses medium-altitude Earth orbit (MEO) satellites to receive distress signals emitted from the emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships or people in distress.
The MEO satellites will then relay the information to the ground, alerting search and rescue agencies.
Compared to the current low-altitude Earth orbit search and rescue (LEOSAR) ground system, the new system has a greater position accuracy for faster detection and location of vessels or people in distress.
The MEOSAR ground system will be fully operational in 2018.
Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA commented that in any search and rescue mission, time is of the essence. He added that the new system will allow for an expeditious deployment of assets to save lives.
The adoption of the MEOSAR ground system is an initiative under the humanitarian Cospas-Sarsat program, an international satellite-based search and rescue alert program for aviation, maritime and land users in distress.
Singapore has been an active participant of the program since 1991 and is responsible for the sending of emergency messages to search and rescue point-of-contacts such as Brunei, Malaysia and Myanmar.