WELLINGTON, Oct. 29 — Testing will soon begin on a new joint New Zealand-Australian search and rescue satellite receiving system that will cover much of the Earth's surface, New Zealand's maritime rescue authority said on Thursday.
Construction had been completed on a new search and rescue satellite receiving station in the central North Island built as part of a joint project by Maritime New Zealand and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The site, together with a similar receiving station in Western Australia, had been built ahead of the introduction of a new generation of medium-Earth orbit search and rescue (MEOSAR) satellites.
MEOSAR satellites, orbiting at around 20,000 km above the Earth, were replacing the current low-Earth orbit satellites, orbiting at 800 to 1,000 km, which would be phased out over the next four years, said a Maritime New Zealand statement.
The MEOSAR system, set to begin operation in 2017, would significantly boost search and rescue (SAR) capability in the New Zealand and Australian SAR regions.
Together these stretched north to the Equator and south to the South Pole, east to half way across the Pacific, and west half way across the Indian Ocean.
The coverage from the sites would provide overlapping coverage of both search and rescue regions.
The two sites will undergo rigorous testing before the MEOSAR system is officially brought online in late 2017 by COSPAS SARSAT, the 41-nation international coordinating body for global search and rescue.
"Our two countries are responsible for a huge section of the earth when it comes to search and rescue, and without our joint contribution there would be a significant gap in the network," Maritime New Zealand director Keith Manch said in the statement. (PNA/Xinhua)