Galileo is the European Union’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellation, similar to GPS in the United States, which provides positioning, navigation and timing by Galileo’s global satellite constellation. Galileo additionally is allowing for new improvements to the COSPAS SARSAT’s International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (SAR) by upgrading its Ecosystem under the new MEOSAR satellite network to allow for the new Return Link Service to approved 406 MHz distress beacons (EPIRB, PLB, ELT).
Return Link Service or RLS enables newly approved EPIRB, PLB, and ELT allowing for a confirmation signal (Example: blue light flashing) or message if the beacon has a digital display that the distress signal from the beacon has been received and localized by the Cospas-Sarsat system and forwarded to government authorities for action. It does NOT mean that a rescue has yet been organized/launched, only that the distress alert has been received and routed to the appropriate government agencies. The RLS confirmation signal or message should typically be received back to the RLS beacon between 10-20 minutes as Search and Rescue is working to facilitate your rescue.
The real benefit of the RLS message is that it provides beacon owners in an emergency with added peace of mind that their emergency rescue has been initiated and Search and Rescue know where they are and that they need help. Knowing that your distress message has been confirmed provides users in distress with confidence in their beacon, reassurance that help is coming, and the mental strength to hang on and make good decisions to keep themselves alive while they wait for help.
The Return Link Acknowledgment Service is a joint effort between Cospas-Sarsat and the Galileo Program, as it is supported on one hand by the existing Cospas-Sarsat system and on the other, by the new Galileo Service Facility called Return Link Service Provider (RLSP).
The RLSP is in charge of securely providing the ground segment interface between the Mission Control Center and Galileo Core Infrastructure, enabling the transmission of Return Link Messages (RLMs) to the appropriate Galileo satellites that are in view of the beacon.
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Does Return Link Service have a Subscription?
The Galileo Return Link Service (RLS) is a free-of-charge global service implemented with the support of, and in cooperation with, Cospas-Sarsat and is available to 1st and 2nd generation 406 MHz C/S compatible beacons transmitting according to the RLS protocol.