Com Dev International of Cambridge, Ontario, has successfully completed initial design work on search-and-rescue payloads to be installed on the U.S. GPS 3 positioning, timing and navigation satellites slated to start launching in late 2015, the company said. 

Completion of the preliminary design review demonstrated that the payloads are progressing toward compliance with department requirements and those of the international stakeholder community, Com Dev said. 

Com Dev designed the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) repeater payload under a 4.7 million Canadian dollar ($4.2 million) contract with the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) announced last year. From the medium Earth orbit of their GPS 3 host satellites, some 20,200 kilometers in altitude, the MEOSAR payloads will relay distress signals from boats, aircraft and other platforms to rescue authorities around the world.

Once operational, MEOSAR system will become part of the international Cospas-Sarsat system that features search-and-rescue repeater payloads hosted aboard a variety of satellites operated by several countries. Originally established by Canada, France, the former Soviet Union and the United States, the system now boasts 43 participating countries and is credited with saving more than 30,000 lives around the world since 1982.

“On May 2nd 2013 the Minister of National Defence identified the MEOSAR project as an important initiative to provide a more capable search and rescue system for Canada and Cospas-Sarsat,” Com Dev Chief Executive Michael Pley said in a prepared statement. “We have reached an important project milestone and I am very pleased with the team’s ability to deliver important space based search and rescue capabilities to DND on time and on budget.”