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Within space stations, a particularly interesting program is COSPAS-SARSAT, an international humanitarian program devoted to searching and rescuing people in danger. COSPAS-SARSAT uses a satellite system to detect and locate signals emitted by emergency radio beacons installed on boats and aircraft, or carried by people. Its objective is to support all existing organizations in the World with searching and rescuing operations, in sea, air or land, and reducing the time required to detect and locate SAR events.

On the right, the COSPAS-SARSAT antenna in Maspalomas

On the 31st May of 1991, the Council of Ministers of the Spanish Government approved the incorporation of Spain into the COSPAS-SARSAT program, as a provider of ground segment. INTA was established as the responsible agency for fulfilling the commitments. Spain has participated in this program since the 1st January 1993 detecting and distributing alerts from the COSPAS-SARSAT Mission Control Center in Spain (SPMCC), located in the Maspalomas station. From its creation in 1982 onwards, the program has saved more than 31,000 human lives. Since Spain started collaborating in the project in 1993, Maspalomas Control Center, in 551 operations, has contributed to the rescue of 9,127 people and provided support for rescuing 2,222 people in the area which is under Spanish responsibility (Spain and 19 African countries). Moreover, outside this area, it has provided support for the rescue of 6,905 people.

In order to carry out all the tasks involved in detecting and locating alerts, the COSPAS-SARSAT Spanish Center has three of the 78 reception and processing stations integrated in the system: a LEOLUT station for low-orbit satellite; COSPAS-SARSAT satellites; and two stations GEOLUTs for geostationary satellites, GOES and MSG.