ISRO’s satellite-based search and rescue network has helped in saving 30 crew members of a Panama registered ship ‘Glory Moon’. The ship was drifting in the Sri Lankan waters after its communications and navigation systems were completely destroyed in a fire that occurred on board the ship on July 11, 2006. ISRO’s geostationary communication satellite, INSAT-3A, relayed the first distress signals transmitted by the distress beacon that was still functioning on board ‘Glory Moon’. The Indian Mission Control Centre (INMCC) of ISRO located at Bangalore, detected those distress signals and immediately alerted the Indian Coast Guard for Search and Rescue operations. Though the ship was in Sri Lankan waters, it was the initiative shown by INMCC, that resulted in the rescue of all the 30 crew members.

India is a member of the international COSPAS-SARSAT programme for providing distress alert and position location service through LEOSAR (Low Earth Orbit Search And Rescue) satellite system. Under this programme, India has established two Local User Terminals (LUTs), one at Lucknow and the other at Bangalore. The Indian Mission Control Centre (INMCC) is located at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bangalore. Besides, ISRO’s geostationary communication satellite, INSAT-3A, is specially equipped with a 406 MHz Search and Rescue payload that picks up and relays alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land users. INSAT GEOSAR Local User Terminal (GEO LUT) also established at ISTRAC, Bangalore is integrated with INMCC. The distress alerts detected at INMCC are passed on to Indian Coast Guard and Rescue Coordination Centres (RCC) at Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai.

Since its establishment in 1991, INMCC has helped in saving more than 1,500 lives.