The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system uses a combination of different satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons. The satellites relay the distress signals from the emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, Maryland (USMCC). The USMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located.
U.S. Coast Guard graphic
April 6, 2018